Some 1.7 million people across Latin America are infected with the HIV virus, and the epidemic is spreading swiftly with up to 410,000 new cases in 2006, up from as many as 320,000 new cases in 2004, according the UN AIDS program, UNAIDS.
"In Latin America the use of condoms has been demonized, but if they were used in every relation I guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region," Alberto Stella, the UNAIDS Coordinator for Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica said.
The Catholic Church, the predominate denomination in Latin America, promotes abstinence rather than the use of contraception, including condoms.
"The fact young people start to be sexually active between 15 and 19 without sex education contributes to the spreading of the virus, as well as the fact that the evidence shows abstinence is not working," Stella told Reuters.
Latin America is home to nearly half the world's 1.1 billion Catholics. Brazil, the region's largest Catholic nation, regularly distributes free condoms to try to reduce HIV infection rates.
Catholic condom ban helping AIDS spread in Latam: U.N.
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care
The Australian AIDS Fund
Vatican set to OK condoms for disease prevention (CathNews, 26/04/06)
Kenyan archbishop warns condoms will not prevent AIDS (CathNews, 05/08/03)
Cardinal says condoms ban due to implied sexual immorality (CathNews, 25/01/05)
Jesuit says Vatican condom concession would be nothing new (CathNews, 04/05/06)
WYD Vatican condom rethink could save millions, says Catholic AIDS activist (CathNews, 24/11/06)