A lot of the public perception of Brazil's annual Rio de Janiero Carnaval is wrapped up in condoms.
Rather than allow the specter of HIV/AIDS to hamper the massive annual street celebration of sensuality and debauchery, Rio de Janierans have established a tradition of handing out free condoms to the snaking throngs of revelers. As a nation, Brazil already gives away about 49 million condoms each month—and that's months when it's not Carnaval. But carnaval's reputation for casual sex on a grand scale has upped the numbers: the city plans to distribute 89 million of the Latex party favors, which is 26 million more than last year.
Brazil intensified its anti-HIV/AIDS campaign in response to rising rates of youth infection. An estimated 630,000 Brazilians have contracted the virus, and most are unaware they have it.
Brazil is home to the world's largest Roman Catholic population, and condom use is frowned upon by church officials. Bishop Rafael Llano Cifuentes, claiming that condoms are perforated, argued that the AIDS virus can pass through "as easily as a cat through a garage door."
Here's hoping celebrants remember to shut that garage before they get down to business.