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Catholic Church urges AIDS testing in Brazil

October 23rd, 2009

A giant red ribbon, the symbol of the International AIDS Awareness campaign, appears at the Anhangabau

The Catholic Church said Thursday it will launch a campaign in Brazil urging early testing for AIDS, despite maintaining its opposition to government incentives promoting condom use.

The effort seeks “to make the population aware of the risks of AIDS and, if a positive diagnosis is found, to start treatment as soon as possible,” said Luiz Carlos Lunardi, a spokesman on the church’s efforts on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The national campaign will be based on a test program already underway in five Brazilian cities, and will include testing for syphilis, the Brazilian National Confederation of Bishops said.

The confederation and Brazil’s health ministry will jointly launch the undertaking.

This show of unity in the country with the largest Catholic population in the world comes after several clashes between the government and the church over the use of condoms, which have been shown to be effective in curbing the spread of HIV.

“The churches pray, and we work to reduce the number of cases of illness,” Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao said recently.

The Brazilian government intends to hand out 1.2 billion condoms this year as part of its policy for family planning and the reduction of sexually transmitted diseases.

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