An online petition launched today urges EU governments to cut VAT on condoms to tackle the growth of AIDS in Europe.

The European Parliament Socialist Group will present the petition to government ministers ahead of World AIDS Day on 1st December.

Hundreds of Facebook users have already joined a group on the social networking site to support the campaign under the slogan “Cut AIDS, Cut VAT on Condoms.”

Across Europe, VAT rates currently range up to 25 per cent in Sweden and Denmark.

The 27 EU member states are free to fix their own VAT rates on condoms. The only requirement under EU law is that they set a

minimum rate of five per cent.

Socialist Group vice-president Jan Marinus Wiersma, who launched

today’s online petition, said:

“HIV-AIDS is not just an issue for developing countries or specific

groups in society. The World Health Organisation confirms that new HIV infection rates are growing in its European region.

“In the European Union 26,984 newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection were reported in 2005.

“The predominant mode of transmission is heterosexual. Cutting VAT on condoms to the minimum rate would be both a practical step in tackling AIDS and a powerful symbolic gesture on World AIDS

Day.”

The petition is at www.socialistgroup.eu and the Facebook group is at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=18401252368.