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Cardinal proposes warning on condom packets

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo has suggested condom packages should carry health warning similar to that printed on cigarette packets.

He put forward his idea in response to questions about his statements on the BBC Panorama TV report that condoms were not a guarantee against catching HIV/AIDS, comparing condom use to playing Russian Roulette.

"I propose that the ministries of health require the inclusion in condom packages and advertisements, and in the apparatus or shelves where they are displayed, a warning, that the condom is not safe," said Cardinal Trujillo, who is president of the Vatican's Council for the Family said.

"This has been done since some time ago with cigarettes, saying that the filter does not guarantee protection."

His original remarks provoked a hostile reaction from international health authorities who are more confident than Cardinal Trujillo in the safety of condoms and see the promotion of their use as the key to arresting the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

"I simply wished to remind the public, sustaining the opinion of a good number of experts, that when the condom is employed as a contraceptive, it is not totally dependable, and that the cases of pregnancy is not rare," Trujillo said. "In the case of the Aids virus, which is around 450 times smaller than the sperm cell, the condom's latex material obviously gives much less security."

Experts from the World Health Organisation have said that Church's claims are wrong and that condoms are 90% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. In the other 10% of cases the condom was used improperly, broke, slipped or had passed its use-by date.

Sunday Times/AFP

BBC TV Panorama: Sex and the Holy City | Transcript | View program (requires Real Player)
HIV/Aids: Catholic Church in Condom Palaver (Vanguard/
WHO slams cardinal condom claim (
Condom Controversy Surprises Vatican (AP)
Cardinal: Condoms don't block AIDS virus (News-Leader/AP)
Vatican 'Surprised" By Condom Attack (

15 Oct 2003