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Stigma and taboo around CONDOMS in India very high: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization operating in 38 countries, celebrates International Condom Day (ICD) annually with this year’s theme being “ALWAYS IN FASHION” for promoting prevention of STIs, HIV and unwanted pregnancies through free condom distribution and safer sex awareness events. AHF activated over 117 “ALWAYS IN FASHION” eventsworldwide, including  six events across India.AIDS-Healthcare-Foundation

As part of the “ALWAYS IN FASHION” event, a 40 feet inflatable CONDOM shaped balloon was installed at Central Park on which public was encouraged to sign and endorse CONDOM use.  AHF aims to acquire   the largest number of signatures and endorsement   and create a a world record while de-stigmatizing and generating awareness on Condoms and Condom usage among the general population.  The theme “ALWAYS IN FASHION” – further denotes that “Fashion may come and go but Condoms are ever to stay” pressing on the need for sustained promotion of Condoms in our society. The event also witnessed free voluntary HIV testing camp, flash dance & flash ramp walk by students of Delhi University to support the cause, display of garments, designs, accessories and graphical creations by budding Fashion designers from Pearl Academy. The presence of MPs representing the Forum of Parliamentarians on AIDS (FPA) added the political will in championing the cause of removing the STIGMA associated to Condoms in India.

This year’s International Condom Day theme “Always in Fashion” is also aimed at enticing the youth of India with positive messages on condom usage, through the medium of creative Fashion designs made of Condoms. The objective was to promote consistent condom use as one of the most effective means to prevent the HIV / STI infection. The winners of the PAN India competition were announced and the selected best entries were put up for Public viewing in the “Condom Fashion Gallery” at the Central Park, including Fashion Accessories, Jackets, modern fashion garments, western outfits and umbrellas.

“Condoms are always in fashion, but they are not always available, affordable or attractive,” added Terri Ford, Chief of Global Advocacy & Policy for AHF.  “Condoms are still the most effective way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as preventing unwanted pregnancies. Now is not the time to abandon condoms. International Condom day is a fun day to put condoms back in the spotlight. At a time when young women are especially at risk for HIV transmission and pregnancy globally, UNAIDS, USAID and the Global Fund are drastically cutting funding and distribution of free condoms. That is very short-sighted and a very wrong move. Countries around the world are left condom-less – which is a dangerous situation.”

“Marking International Condom Day, AHF is standing up and creating an emergency ‘Condom Bank’ of 50 million free condoms to help the crisis caused by the defunding of condoms around the world,” added AHF President, Michael Weinstein.  “We know that withdrawing easy access to free condoms will drive up the rate of new HIV infections and STIs. This is unacceptable and we will do all we can to make condoms accessible, desirable and free. We will donate millions of condoms to governments facing condom stock-outs. Condoms are Always in Fashion – don’t believe otherwise.”

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. V. Sam Prasad, Country Program Director, AHF India said, “AHF has been observing this day in India for the past few years. Over the years AHF has distributed more than four million FREE Condoms across India working towards its goal of reducing the spread of HIV and encouraging safe sex practices. “This day is celebrated with a view to encourage individuals to protect themselves by consistent condom use and is a “Call to Action” to the Government and the private sector to remove economic and ideological barriers that impede the easy access to free and low-cost condoms for all”Dr.Sam added.

India is set to experience a dynamic transformation by the year 2020 with the ever growing National adult population (15–49 years) and every third person in India is a youth. In about seven years, the median individual in India will be 29 years, very likely a city-dweller, making it the “YOUNGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD”. There is a dire need to continue intense public awareness campaigns to tackle the inhibitions and taboos associated with Condoms and to encourage the use of Condoms. AHF is promoting and distributing high quality free condoms globally in 39 countries with the brand name “LOVE CONDOMS”- remarked Dr.Sam

With local and global funding on Condoms going down we will soon have a global stock out leading to a very detrimental and precarious situation affecting millions of lives in India. India needs to foresee the future and plan mitigation efforts by making free condoms available for the masses – Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil – Brand Ambassador, AHF commented.

India’s Gay and Hijra Community will be at the greatest risk if such a stock out happens and this can lead to many a untoward consequences and result in resurfacing the STI/HIV infections of our Country” – Prince Manavendra Singh Gohil – added

During the event, AHF also unveiled its 2017 International Condom Day song,‘Always in Fashion,’ (song) a parody (lyrics) of Bruno Mars’ latest hit, “24K Magic” to help pump up enthusiasm at ICD events across the globe.

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