Condom Awareness in India Increasing, Report Says
Condom awareness has increased significantly among sexually active men and women in India, according to a report released on Wednesday, the IANS/India eNews reports. The report assessed a three-year HIV/AIDS awareness campaign that was formed jointly by UNAIDS and India's National AIDS Control Organization.
The campaign targeted six districts -- Aizwal, Bellary, Guntur, Kanpur, Kishanganj and Udaipur -- with high HIV prevalence. According to the report, 95% of men in India believe condoms can prevent the spread of HIV, and 70% percent of women know where to obtain condoms.
The report found that the incidence of sexually transmitted infections across the six districts dropped from 55% to 17%. It also showed that 5% of young women in Guntur, 6% in Kanpur and 8% in Kishanganj were willing to accept husbands with extramarital relationships. According to the report, the belief that condoms protect against HIV/AIDS has increased from 65% to 95% among men in all six districts. Awareness of single-partner sex as a preventive measure against STIs also increased from an average of 40% of residents to 76% across the districts, the study found. In addition, the study showed that the percentage of young women who knew where to obtain male condoms has increased significantly. About 84% of women in Guntur responded that they know where to find condoms in the recent survey, compared with 30% in 2004. Similarly, awareness among women in Aizwal increased from 42% to 91% during the same time period.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes, who released the report's findings, said, "The results attained in three years have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of a grassroots, district-level intervention that empowers women to protect themselves and a possible route-map to rid the nation of this devastating pandemic." NACO Director-General Sujatha Rao said, "Given the vulnerability and risk of young women and the difficulty of mass reach of awareness programs," the campaign has been "successful in building effective models of district-level interventions which address women's empowerment through an expanded response." She said the recommendations of the joint campaign will be included in the upcoming National Aids Control Program (IANS/India eNews, 10/24).