Many Women in India’s Karnataka State Unaware Condoms Can Prevent HIV; Expanded Access to Condoms, Prevention Efforts Needed
About 35% of women in India's Karnataka state know that condoms can prevent HIV transmission, according to India's National Family Health Survey, the Times of India reports. The survey indicated a need for increased access to HIV prevention and education and expanded access to female condoms, according to the Times. The NFHS survey also found that 12.3% of women and 32.6% of men in the state have comprehensive knowledge about HIV.
According to the Times, Karnataka has not been included in a National AIDS Control Organization condom distribution program despite the state's high HIV prevalence, which is twice as high as the national HIV prevalence. Other states with a high HIV prevalence, such as Manipur, also are not included in the NACO program, the Times reports. State HIV/AIDS control organizations last year supplied Karnataka with about 250 million male condoms, and a portion of NACO's annual budget has been allocated to distribute condoms in areas that have an increased risk of HIV, according to the Times.
NACO is scaling up efforts to introduce female condoms across the country. About 1.5 million female condoms were distributed in four states -- Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengel -- and placed in government medical stores, Pritpal Marjara, team leader for technical support of NACO, said. Marjara added that the agency plans to obtain an additional 1.5 million female condoms for the program, which is expected to cost four million Indian rupees, or about $700,000. The condoms will be sold through nongovernmental organizations at a "highly subsidized rate" of 3.5 Indian rupees, or about 69 cents, Marjara said. NACO aims to reach 200,000 commercial sex workers through the program, Marjara said. NACO also is increasing the number of condom vending machines in train stations and public restrooms as part of the program, Mayank Agarwal, a joint director at NACO, said (Nagaraj, Times of India, 11/19).