Brazil to hand out 59 million condoms during carnival
Brazil is to distribute 59 million free condoms during its famous Carnival later this month to combat the spread of AIDS, Health Minister Jose Temporao said Friday.
The number of prophylactics -- enough for one Brazilian resident in three, or almost for the entire population of Britain -- is a jump over the 49 million free condoms handed out every month in the tropical South American nation.
The sheaths are to be handed out during the extravagant parades featuring bare-breasted models and stirring drums, and in the innumerable street parties that will take place across the country between February 19 and 25.
Brazil is the biggest state buyer of condoms in the world. Temporao said his government was buying "1.2 billion condoms on the international market."
In a dig at churches, including the Catholic Church which preaches sexual abstinence over condom use, Temporao said: "The churches pray. And we are working to reduce the number of cases of illness."
He said the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Brazil has stayed stable over the past eight years, and the survival rate of HIV-positive patients had doubled over the past 12 years.
The country provides prevention campaigns and free retroviral treatment to the 630,000 people infected with the virus.