Spain to send one million condoms to Africa

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A day after Pope Benedict XVI's comments that condoms will aggravate battle against AIDS, Spain announces it is sending one million condoms.

MADRID – Spain said Wednesday it will send one million condoms to Africa to fight the spread of AIDS, one day after Pope Benedict XVI's controversial remarks that they aggravated efforts to battle the disease.

"The objective is to advance the prevention of this epidemic, which affects 33 million people all over the world, two-thirds of them in Africa," the health ministry said in a statement.

"Condoms have been demonstrated to be a necessary element in prevention policies and an efficient barrier against the virus, according to laboratory studies," it added.

Benedict told reporters Tuesday aboard the plane taking him to Cameroon that AIDS was a tragedy "that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems".

The solution lies in a "spiritual and human awakening" and "friendship for those who suffer," he said on his first trip to Africa.

The Vatican is opposed to contraception and it has long argued that sexual abstinence is the best way to prevent the spread of AIDS.

The pontiff's comments were swiftly condemned by governments and AIDS activists around the world, who warned his statement could harm efforts to rein in the disease in Africa. Some said the pope was out of touch with reality.

Since coming to power in 2004, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government has clashed frequently with Spain's highly conservative church hierarchy by enacting social reforms such as fast-track divorce and gay marriage.

The pontiff's week-long visit to AIDS-ravaged Africa will also take him to Angola.

AFP / Expatica

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