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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK
Can condoms kill?
Panorama: Can condoms kill? was broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 27 June 2004 at 22:15 BST

Hardliners in the Vatican say condoms can kill - they have holes in them and fail to protect against AIDS. Furthermore they claim there is science to prove it.

The major significant AIDS control agencies say this is not true - that there's no health risk from holes in condoms.

In this film Panorama goes on a worldwide hunt for the truth. We ask who is right on the science - those accused of risking lives by promoting condoms or those in the Church who want to stop condoms being used.

Reporter Steve Bradshaw follows up his original investigation and, with the help of experts, Panorama analyzes the 20 page paper prepared by the Vatican's influential Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, with its 87 footnotes including many scientific papers, in support of the belief that trusting condoms can kill you.

In the film, the European Union condemns the Catholic Church over "bigotry" in its approach to condoms. But leading Catholic Churchmen in Latin America and Africa say that condoms could actually be making the AIDS epidemic worse - and they say there's a better way of fighting the virus.

The Panorama team travel to Brazil, where the Church's claims have caused a row so bitter that the Rio carnival this year became a protest against the Vatican's claim.

Some protesters - and a the government itself - have started to question whether the Church's stand could become a crime against humanity."

Panorama also explores HIV prevention in Uganda, where HIV rates have actually gone down. An unusual occurance in Africa

Many Catholics believe that it is abstinence and a return to fidelity and not condoms that are beating HIV. And it's not just the Church - the debate about what happened in Uganda has captivated policy-makers across the world.

The investigation also includes a visit to the legal brothels of Nevada, where it's claimed prostitutes have a 100% success rate in using condoms against HIV.

Panorama reveals to what extent ordinary people can place equal faith in condoms. The programme also hears the views of leading scientists in the USA who give their views about the Cardinal's controversial claims.

Global efforts to convince people condoms leak were first reported last year in Panorama's Sex and the Holy City. The film revealed the tactics used by some Catholic conservatives to try to dissuade people from using condoms in the midst of the AIDS pandemic.

Production team:
Reporter: Steve Bradshaw
Producer: Tony Stark
Deputy Editor: Andrew Bell
Editor: Mike Robinson

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