UNAIDS, the Geneva-based United Nations programme on HIV and Aids, has welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s support of HIV prevention.
In book excerpts published in the Vatican newspaper on Saturday night, the pope stated that using condoms to stop the spread of Aids could be justified in certain cases – in particular among prostitutes.
“This is a significant and positive step forward taken by the Vatican,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé in a statement released on Sunday.
“This move recognises that responsible sexual behaviour and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention.”
In 2009, UNAIDS held discussions with the Vatican on HIV issues such as the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, protecting young people and reducing sexual violence against women and girls.
A book of interviews with the pope is scheduled to be published on Wednesday. The pope is quoted as saying that condom use by prostitutes is "a first step towards moralisation” but “not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection".
Last month, the Catholic church of Lucerne made news with an Aids prevention campaign that included the distribution of condoms.
swissinfo.ch and agencies