Church claims condoms are permeable to HIV
Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids
not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through
which the HIV virus can pass potentially exposing thousands of people
to risk, according to Panorama - Sex and the Holy City -
Sunday, BBC ONE at 10.15pm.
shows that the church is making the claims across four continents
despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable
to the HIV virus.
the programme, a senior Vatican spokesman backs the claims about
permeable condoms, despite assurances by the World Health Organisation
(WHO) that they are untrue.
president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal
Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, told Panorama: "The Aids virus is roughly
450 times smaller than the spermatozoon.
spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by
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
WHO appear in the programme to counter the Vatican's views, saying:
"These incorrect statements about condoms and HIV are dangerous
when we are facing a global pandemic which has already killed more
than 20 million people, and currently affects at least 42 million."
organisation says consistent and correct condom use reduces the
risk of HIV infection by 90%.
may be "breakage or slippage of condoms" but not, the
WHO says, holes through which the virus can pass.
research by a group including the US National Institutes of Health
and the WHO found: "intact condoms... are essentially impermeable
to particles the size of STD pathogens including the smallest sexually
transmitted virus, condoms provide a highly effective barrier to
transmission of particles of similar size to those of the smallest
Vatican's Cardinal Trujillo says: "They are wrong about that,
this is an easily recognisable fact."
church opposes any kind of contraception because it claims it breaks
the link between sex and procreation, a position Pope John Paul
II has fought to defend.
Kenya, where an estimated 20% of people have the HIV virus, the
church condemns condoms for promoting promiscuity and repeats the
claim about permeability.
archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Nzeki, said: "Aids...
has grown so fast because of the availability of condoms."
ensure use of the above material is credited to BBC Panorama - Sex
and the Holy City.
- Sex and the Holy City, will be broadcast on BBC ONE at 10.15pm
on Sunday 12 October 2003.
Bradshaw is the BBC correspondent for Panorama - Sex and the Holy
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