Can condoms kill?

Posted: 16 November 2004

Hardliners in the Vatican say condoms can kill - they have holes in them and fail to protect against AIDS. Furthermore they claim there is science to prove it.

The major AIDS control agencies say this is not true - that there's no health risk from holes in condoms.

Condoms
The Vatican claims condoms are deadly
The Vatican claims condoms are deadly. Credit: BBC
In this film, first broadcast in June 2004, the BBC Panorama team goes on a worldwide hunt for the truth. Global efforts to convince people condoms leak were first reported in 2003 in Panorama's 'Sex and the Holy City'.

The film revealed the tactics used by some Catholic conservatives to try to dissuade people from using condoms in the midst of the AIDS pandemic.

Panorama returns to the subject to ask who is right on the science - those accused of risking lives by promoting condoms or those in the Church who want to stop condoms being used.

Reporter Steve Bradshaw follows up his original investigation and, with the help of experts, Panorama analyses the 20-page paper prepared by the Vatican's influential Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, with its 87 footnotes including many scientific papers, in support of the belief that trusting condoms can kill you.

The Cardinal and his supporters don't just argue that condoms leak - they also say point out they can slip off and break during sex, and claim they are even making things worse by encouraging promiscuity.

The Panorama team travel to Brazil, where the Church's claims have caused a particularly bitter row and to Uganda where many Catholics believe that it is abstinence and a return to fidelity and not condoms that are beating HIV. In both countries leading Catholics defend the Church's teaching.

The investigation also includes a visit to the legal brothels of Nevada, where it's claimed prostitutes have a 100% success rate in using condoms against HIV.

Panorama reveals whether ordinary people can place equal faith in condoms. The programme also hears the views of leading scientists in the USA who give their views about the Cardinal's controversial claims.

The Television Trust for the Environment (TVE) is distributing Can condoms kill? for non-broadcast, educational use worldwide and broadcast use in developing countries. For copies of the film contact TVE's distribution office by clicking here.TVE, 21 Elizabeth Street, Victoria, LONDON SW1W 9RP. Telephone: +44 20 7901 8855; fax: +44 20 7901 8856.To order online, visit TVE's Moving Pictures catalogue.