Shock at archbishop’s condom poisoning allegation

By staff writers
September 27, 2007

Anti-AIDS activists, including those working with church-backed groups, have expressed amazement at outrage about claims made by the head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique that some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately.

The claim was made in a BBC interview with Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio. He said that some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected "in order to finish quickly the African people".

AIDS activists have been angered by the remarks, calling them "nonsense". The Catholic Church formally opposes any use of condoms, advising fidelity within marriage or sexual abstinence, and sexual health workers accuse the archbishop of engaging in crude propaganda to justify this.

"We've been using condoms for years now, and we still find them safe," prominent Mozambican Aids activist Marcella Mahanjane told the BBC.

According to the United Nations, anti-retrovirals (ARVs) have proved very effective for treating people with AIDS. The drugs are not a cure, but attack the virus on several fronts at once.

Some16.2% of Mozambique's 19m inhabitants are HIV positive and around 500 people are infected every day.

Archbishop Chimoio told a BBC reporter that: "Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose."

He continued: "They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century's time."

The remarks were made at celebrations to mark 43 years of independence in Mozambique. The archbishop has not named the countries concerned or provided any evidence.

Activists will now ask the Church to condemn the remarks. 17.5% of Mozambicans are Catholic.

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