Vatican says HIV can pass through condoms

Graham McKerrow, HIV i-Base

Unbelievably, the Vatican is telling people across four continents that condoms do not stop HIV because they are full of holes, according to a Panorama documentary broadcast on BBC1 TV in October. Some priests even say condoms are ‘laced’ with HIV.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, told the programme in a filmed interview: “The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatazoon. The spermatzaoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom. These margins of uncertainty … should represent an obligation on the part of the health ministries and all these campaigns to act in the same way as they do with regard to cigarettes, which they state to be a danger.”

The World Health Organisation has countered the Vatican’s claims, calling them “incorrect” and “dangerous”. The WHO says condoms can break or slip off but there are not holes through which the virus can pass. It says “consistent and correct” use of condoms cuts the risk of infection by 90%.

A scientific research group that included the WHO and the US National Institutes of Health, carried out research that found that “intact condoms are essentially impermeable to particles the size of STD pathogens including the smallest sexually transmitted virus”.

Cardinal Trujillo dismissed the evidence, saying: “They are wrong about that … this is an easily recognisable fact.”

Panorama found the Vatican’s advice repeated by Raphael Ndingi Nzeki, the archbishop of Nairobi, Catholic nuns and church leaders around the world. Gordon Wambi, the director of an HIV clinic in Lwak, near Lake Victoria, told the programme that the church had prevented him distributing condoms. “Some priests have even been saying that condoms are laced with HIV/AIDS,” he said.

The Catholic Church has consistently condemned the use of condoms whether for use as contraceptives or for health protection.

More than 40 million people have HIV, most with no access to treatment.


Transcript and online (RealAudio) access to Panorama

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