France's First Lady Carla Bruni has publicly thanked the Pope for declaring condoms can be used to prevent the spread of AIDS.
The singer, whose brother Virginio died of an AIDS-related illness in 2006, insists she was "astonished, surprised and grateful" to learn that Pope Benedict XVI has said condoms could be used by to prevent HIV infection.
She says, "I think this is quite an enormous step towards something very new... I have been touched by the very recent declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and am grateful. A number of African countries are Christian and take great heed of what the Pope says."
The star admits losing her brother to the disease, despite him receiving the best treatment available in France, has inspired her to keep fighting for AIDS victims.
She adds, "My brother unfortunately capitulated... but we should keep on fighting it, and keep trying to offer everything he was given to all the people of this world, if possible."
Bruni, a campaigner for HIV/AIDS awareness, blasted the Catholic leader for his views on condoms last year (09), insisting his disapproval "damaged" countries in Africa.