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Health Minister Rejects Papal Condom Claim

Maputo – Mozambican Health Minister Ivo Garrido has rejected the claim by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, that the use of condoms somehow makes the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa worse.

Immediately before his arrival in Cameroon last week, the Pope declared that AIDS is “A tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem”.

These remarks outraged anti–AIDS activists across the globe, since condoms are in fact the only technology currently available that really does stop the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

One of the strongest responses came from the President of the World Health Assembly, Guyana Health Minister Lesie Ramsammy, who described the Pope’s stand as “Absolutely and unequivocally wrong” and “Inconsistent with science”.

He warned that the pontiff was “Sowing confusion” and trying to hinder strategies that had been proven correct in the fight against the disease.

Asked by reporters in Maputo on Monday for his reaction to the Pope's claim, Garrido stressed that condoms remain part of the government's strategy to reduce the level of HIV infection in Mozambique.

“I don’t know in what context the Pope said this, but we in the Mozambican government live in the real world, not the world we would like to live in", said Garrido. "In the real world, we know that people have sexual relations with more than one partner’.

“That’s the real world, not the ideal one. Or didn’t you know that?”, he asked the journalists.

“That’s why a responsible government has to include the component of condom use in its strategy to fight against this disease, as a way of reducing the level of infection”, he stressed.

“We don’t encourage people to have more than one partner. But we live in a country where there are many people of varying habits, and that’s why condom use is one of the ten components in our strategy”, Garrido said.

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Source: All Africa

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