Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI, on his first visit to Africa, has been criticised for continuing to reject the use of condoms in the fight against HIV, claiming that they actually make matters worse.

Speaking to journalists on his flight to the continent, he said that the crisis was “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems”.

It is believed that this is the first time that the 81-year old pontiff has made a public statement on condoms; an issue on which activists were hoping the Catholic Church would soften its position.

Rebecca Hodes, head of policy, communication and research at Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, told The Times of London that the Pope should focus on promoting wider access to condoms and information.

“Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans,” she said.

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