Roman Catholic AIDS workers in South Africa promoted safer sex by handing out condoms long before Pope Benedict XVI gave his blessing on the selective use of condoms to lower HIV rates, The Associated Press (AP) reports. More than 5 million people are HIV positive in South Africa, where for the last decade Catholic religious and lay workers have advised condom use by couples with one partner living with HIV. AIDS workers are hoping that the pope’s latest stance on condom use will open up further conversations about the virus and its prevention. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest private provider of AIDS care in the world.

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