BRASILIA, Brazil - Brazil on Monday began handing out a
record 10 million contraceptives to stop the spread of AIDS
during Carnival when casual sex rises.
With the pre-Lenten festival less than two weeks away, the
"nothing gets past a condom" campaign focuses on the 14 million
Brazilians, or 15 percent of those sexually active, who don't
believe condoms prevent the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus.
"Carnival is a time when there's a lot of contact, you've got
people wearing very few clothes, which ends up stimulating more
intense sexual relations," said Health Minister Humberto Costa,
as he handed out the first condoms of the campaign aimed at
middle class and poor Brazilian men between 18 and 39.
The promotion of condoms in this year's Carnival has upset
Brazil's Catholic Church, which opposes the distribution of
contraceptives by the nation's highly successful anti-AIDS
program on the grounds that it promotes promiscuity.
Brazil is the world's biggest Roman Catholic country and the
church has said Kama Sutra poses and condom themes in floats in
this year's Rio de Janeiro Carnival parade, as promised by one
Samba group, will mean Brazil is "discredited in front of the
world with unacceptable scenes."
"We respect all religions' positions, our concern is the health
of the population," said Costa, after he played a radio jingle
"I'm the condom my love, you can get into this without any sweat,
use me and abuse me, I'm the condom you can trust."
Keen to avoid any unnecessary confrontation with the church the
minister had earlier vetoed the initial campaign's slogan "Put
faith in the condom" proposed by the ministry.