Nigerian Cardinal: “Condom Is Widely Known Not to Be a Safe Protector against HIV/AIDS”

A Nigerian Cardinal has condemned the coming construction of a billion-dollar condom factory in Yenagoa, recently approved by the Nigerian government, Catholic News Service reported yesterday.

In a New Year's Day address Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie of Lagos said the "condom is widely known not to be a safe protector against HIV/AIDS. It is widely acknowledged today that the safest measure against HIV/AIDS is abstinence".

The cardinal said he wondered why the Nigerian government, while claiming to be committed to the eradication of HIV/AIDS, is now encouraging the spread of the virus through the use of condoms.

He urged the government to reconsider the plan "in order to ensure a healthy nation."

Cardinal Okogie spoke out against the government proposal in January 2006, saying condom use would "encourage immorality, sex on demand, promiscuity, irresponsibility and prostitution. Condom use, knowingly and intentionally, offends the ends of marriage, which is procreation and says no to the bearing of children but [yes to] promiscuity," according to a report by Journalists Against AIDS Nigeria.

The condom factory project is being backed by the US organization Family Health International, a population-control NGO that conducts biomedical research and promotes contraceptive use in third-world countries.

The government of Bayelsa State, where the factory will be located, admitted they have entered into agreement with a United States firm to produce female condoms, in a further effort to prevent the spread of the disease, reported December 27.

Family Health International reports on their website, however, that the female condom has received "limited" acceptance in the populations where it has been promoted, due to the intrusiveness and discomfort of the device.

Nigeria leadership has maintained steady opposition to homosexual activism in the country, proposing legislation in April 2006 that would ban homosexual "marriages," to further strengthen the country's existing prohibitions against homosexual activity.

A top Nigerian official said in July he believes increasing rates of what he called the "foreign" practice of homosexuality in the country is directly harming efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"The war against HIV/AIDS can only be won through preventive approach, much more than through treatment. This is why we stress people stay away from all forms of risky behaviors," said Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS, according to an report in July 2006.

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