Pope prays for AIDS sufferers

 Pope John Paul II has marked World AIDS Day, by praying for those who suffer from the disease and encouraging those who care for them to continue on their work During his Sunday Angelus greeting in St Peter's Square yesterday, the Holy Father expressed concern about the spread of AIDS, particularly in poor countries. "While I pray for those who are hit by this scourge, I encourage those in the church who carry out an invaluable service of acceptance, care and spiritual accompaniment to our brothers and sisters," he said. The Pope's comments came amid renewed criticism of Vatican opposition to using condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Last month, the UN World Health Organisation branded comments by head of the Pontifical Council for the Family Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo as dangerous and "totally wrong". Trujillo said condoms did not sufficiently protect against AIDS, saying the HIV virus was small enough to pass through them. The United Nations says in a recent report that deaths and new cases of HIV/AIDS reached unprecedented numbers in 2003 and were set to keep rising. About 5 million people were infected in 2003 and more than 3 million died. The report revealed global estimates showing that some 40 million people worldwide are now living with HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst affected region, according to UN figures, with about 3.2 million new infections and 2.3 million deaths in 2003. Source: VIS

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