According to the United Nations, the Roman Catholic Church’s anti-condom stance is fueling HIV infection rates throughout Latin America, where 1.1 billion people are Catholic and 1.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. In 2006, 410,000 new cases were reported, up from 320,000 cases just two years earlier (, 10/23).

“In Latin America, the use of condoms has been demonized,” says Alberto Stella, the UNAIDS Coordinator for Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. “But if they were used in every relation, I guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region.”

Brazil, meanwhile, is home to the most Roman Catholics in Latin America—but it regularly distributes free condoms nationwide to combat new infections.