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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 December 2005, 03:37 GMT
Brazil plans massive condom drive
Joseilton Pereira de Jesus, 43, receives his cocktail of 12 Aids drugs at Santa Cruz Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil
More than half a million Brazilians are living with HIV or Aids
Brazil says it plans to distribute a billion free condoms next year as part of its fight against HIV and Aids.

The country's Health Minister, Saraiva Felipe, said the programme would be helped by the construction of a state-run condom factory.

Brazil - Latin America's most populous country - says it will be the first factory of its kind in the world.

It also announced that it recorded a slight fall in the spread of the virus last year.

Overall, the number of new Aids cases fell to 30,886 in 2004 from 33,904 in 2003.

The number of Brazilians with the virus fell to 17.2 for every 100,000 people, down from 19.2 in 2003, the health ministry was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Race issue

The department blamed racism for a marked increase in the proportion of Aids cases among black Brazilians.

When a poor white and a poor black go into the public health system, the poor white gets treated better
Pedro Chequer

"When a poor white and a poor black go into the public health system, the poor white gets treated better," said Pedro Chequer, who heads the government's Aids programme.

He said the health ministry was about to launch an "Aids is Racism" campaign, to encourage black people to seek information on HIV and Aids.

Mr Felipe, who was speaking on the eve of World Aids Day, said his country was leading the way in promoting safe sex.

The federal government has already distributed millions free condoms as part of its Aids policy. Tens of thousands of people also have access to free anti-viral treatment.

However, Brazil's approach has fallen foul of the Vatican.

Last week, it banned popular Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury from a Christmas concert after it found out she had promoted a condom drive during the last carnival in Brazil.

Drugs fail to meet WHO standards for several reasons

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