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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 11:55 GMT
Spain Church cautious on condoms
The Lancet research promotes abstention, fidelity and condoms
The Roman Catholic Church in Spain has acknowledged that condoms could play a role in the global fight against Aids.

The comments mark an apparent shift from traditional Roman Catholic teachings which ban condoms because they are a form of contraception.

But a spokesman for Spanish bishops said the use of condoms and practising sexual restraint appeared to be the best strategy to tackle the disease.

He added that this was backed by the most recent scientific research.

"The Church is very worried and interested by this problem, and its position is backed by scientific proposals such as the one published in the prestigious magazine the Lancet," Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino said.

"The time has come, the Lancet magazine says, for a joint strategy in the prevention of such a tragic pandemic as Aids, and contraception has a place in a global approach to tackling Aids."


His statement followed a meeting with Health Minister Elena Salgado.

According to Spanish government figures there are more than 120,000 adults living with HIV/Aids in Spain, where the disease has caused 42,149 deaths. It is estimated that eight people a day become infected with the virus in Spain.

Correspondents say the comments by the spokesman for the Spanish Bishops' Conference could avoid a clash between the Catholic Church and the socialist government - which promotes the use of condoms and has announced that it supports a new law allowing homosexual marriage.

The Roman Catholic Church remains a powerful voice in Spain.

The Vatican has not issued a definitive statement on the use of condoms, but many of its officials oppose campaigns promoting them.

Last year the European Union criticised a Vatican paper that claimed that HIV - the virus which leads to Aids - can pass through latex condoms and cause infection.

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Country profile: Spain
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