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Giant condom overlooks Buenos Aires on AIDS Day

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A giant condom covers the traditional obelisk in Buenos Aires to mark World AIDS Day on Thursday.

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AIDS (Disease)
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- Sightseers in Buenos Aires got a shock Thursday when the city's most famous landmark, the obelisk, was covered with a giant pink condom on World AIDS Day.

City officials used cranes to unfurl shiny pink cloth over the monolith in a campaign promoting condom use to prevent infection with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

"It seemed like we could have the biggest impact by putting a condom on the most important symbol of the city," said Sandra Castillo, an organizer of the campaign.

The obelisk, which is identical to the Washington Monument but smaller at 220 feet (67 meters) tall, is a popular tourist site.

Its colorful tip could be spotted from office buildings several blocks away.

Vilma Torres, an Ecuadorean tourist taking snapshots of the structure, said the sight was an unexpected surprise.

"You'd never see something like this in Ecuador," she said.

AIDS killed 66,000 Latin Americans in the past year, according to a U.N. report.

In Argentina, the number of reported AIDS cases has fallen 45 percent since 1996, the Health Ministry said Thursday, and the leading cause of infection was unprotected sex.

Esteban Jubitta, 18, considered the obelisk stunt in bad taste.

"Using this moment to make a sort of joke, it's showing a bit of lack of respect," he said.

Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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