Brushing against HIV/AIDS: First free condom store in India

Sailing through innumerable taboos

Society

May 5, 2017

/ By / New Delhi



Approximately 2.1 million people currently live with HIV in India but only 1.2 million cases are registered with the government

Approximately 2.1 million people currently live with HIV in India but only 1.2 million cases are registered with the government

After the Indian parliament passed the HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) bill last month to shield the rights of sufferers and protect them from discrimination, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) recently launched India’s first free condom store, from where anyone is free to order as many condoms as they need.

Approximately 68,000 people lost their lives to Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS)-related flu in India last year, despite a reduction in the country’s HIV epidemic with a 32 pc decline in new cases and 54 pc decline in AIDS-related deaths between 2007 and 2015.

According to the National AIDS Control Organisation, a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, 2.1 million people currently live with HIV in the country, yet only 1.2 million cases are registered with the government.

As India is currently ranked at the third position with most number of such cases, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a global non-profit provider of HIV prevention services, testing and healthcare for HIV patients, recently introduced an online store selling free condoms to individuals, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), government, private institutions and community-based organisations to promote the use of condoms as the most effective yet economic way to prevent HIV infection, thus aiming to reduce new cases of HIV/AIDS in the country.

Named ‘Love Condoms’, AHF is delivering these contraceptives in all major cities in India, helping the people who are just too apprehensive to ask for them at the drugstore. To place an order, a request can be made on toll free number 1800 102 8102 or via an email to freecondomstoreahf@gmail.com.

The AIDS awareness programme in India has undoubtedly contributed to the slowdown of the infection in the country; however, in 2014 the central government reduced its share of funding for the programme, leading to a paucity of condoms and Antiretroviral Drugs (ARV), which help prevent the growth of the virus. Even after the government resumed the funding later, vulnerable people today continue to be at risk of infection, along with living with a mark of disgrace in a largely orthodox society.

Along with opening the store, AHF also released a video framing the reactions of people when asked if they indulge in safe sex practices and use condoms.

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