on Sunday began distributing millions of condoms to
fight the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted
diseases during Brazil's five-day Carnaval 2008.
expects to hand out 19.5 million condoms by Carnaval's end
on Ash Wednesday, February 6, state news service Agencia
Brasil reported, under the program first launched
several years ago.
''We have to let
society know the importance of prevention,'' health
minister Jose Gomes Temporao said as he kicked off
the campaign at a Rio de Janeiro cultural center.
in Brazil -- home to the world's largest Roman Catholic
population -- have opposed the condom program, as well as
another plan to hand out morning-after pills during
Carnaval in the city of Recife.
''The church has
nothing against having fun during carnival, but the
banalization of human sexuality is something we cannot
tolerate,'' Bishop Antonio Augusto Dias Duarte of
the Life and Family Commission of the National
Conference of Brazilian Bishops said last week. ''It will
only serve to diminish inhibitions and encourage
About 80% of
young men polled by the Health Ministry reported using
condoms, although just 40% of women said they insist on it,
Temporao said, without giving more details on the
survey. Nearly 600,000 Brazilians are HIV-positive, of
whom 200,000 are being treated, he said.
Nations has praised Brazil's AIDS treatment program, which
provides free antiviral medications that significantly
improve life expectancy, as a global model. (AP)