By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

SAO PAULO, Brazil, July 8, 2008 ( – An official of the Brazilian federal government has announced that 400 condom vending machines will be placed in public schools by October of this year in the beginning stages of a massive distribution to the entire public school system.

According to Eduardo Barbosa, head of the National Program for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, the program will eventually be expanded to include all schools.

“The expectation is that all of the public schools will have at least one machine.  At the end of the year, we will evaluate the usage and the appropriateness of the machines in the school environment, and how we give information and guidance regarding them,” said Barbosa to the newspaper Jornal do Brasil.

Although such projects are designed to combat the spread of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, the United Nations states that condoms have a 10% failure rate.  In addition, critics observe that condom promotion programs often seem to give recipients a false sense of security, and therefore encourage promiscuity and increase the transmission of such diseases.

Dom Dimas Lara Barbosa, the Secretary-General of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB), expressed skepticism about the program.

“The big problem with this government program for distributing condom machines to the schools is that, rather than teaching fidelity and respect in relationships with others, it runs the risk of creating an incentive to engage in sexual intercourse, including premature sexual intercourse,” he said.

“Our mission as Catholics must be to reaffirm the beauty of human sexuality, but above all, the respect that one should have in every action, including the conjugal act.  Safe sex, only in marriage, blessed by God.”


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