‘Racy’ Condom Ad Sparks Controversy in Kenya
A "racy" television ad for Trust condoms is making Kenyan "adults fume and adolescents squirm," sparking public debate about the appropriateness of the ad, the Associated Press reports. In the ad, two young women stare at a shirtless man in a train station, "lick[ing] their lips." When one woman drops her water bottle, the man approaches, picks it up, slips a condom over it and gives it back to her. The slogan "Life is good with Trust condoms" then appears on screen. Many people have complained in newspaper editorial pages that the ad "encourage[s] promiscuity." However, Population Services International, the non-governmental group that produces the "heavily subsidized" condoms, says that the ad is targeting the at-risk young adult population. "We think the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic has reached a stage where it should be tackled head-on," Bernard Waithaka of PSI said, adding that the ad demonstrates that "condoms are not easy to tear and are flexible." He said that the ad "also show[s] that [condoms] are waterproof, contrary to stories saying they have pores." According to Waithaka, 70% of Kenyans between the ages of 20 and 24 are HIV-positive or at high risk for the virus. However, "profoundly conservative" Kenyans have been hesitant to address condom usage. President Daniel arap Moi said last year that talking about sex and condoms "embarrassed" him and suggested that Kenyans abstain from sex for two years to help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Some people want to see the ad removed entirely, while others say venues such as movie theaters would have been more appropriate. Catholics for a Free Choice has also begun an ad campaign in Kenya criticizing the Catholic Church's stance against condoms. However, these ads, which appear in newspapers, have not been as controversial because they are "less explicit" than the PSI television ad (Munene, Associated Press, 3/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.