Chandigarh starts condom promotion monthJune 2nd, 2009 - 10:17 am ICT by IANS
By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, June 2 (IANS) First there was a condom bar in the city to increase awareness about safe sex. Then, condom depots in slums. Now, the authorities have started a condom promotion month targeting vulnerable areas of this union territory.
“Our idea is to make people aware and to make the contraceptive available to the at-risk segments of society that are generally ignored in the mainstream awareness drives. We are taking the message of healthy lifestyle and responsible behaviour to the masses at large,” Parmod Sharma, coordinator of Yuvsatta, a non-government organisation based here, told IANS.
The condom promotion month, May 29-June 28, was launched here Friday by Yuvsatta and State AIDS Control Society.
It started from the transport area, adjoining the grain market here in Sector 26. This area is frequented by thousands of truck drivers and other businessmen from various states every day.
Sharma added: “In this month-long project, we will cover different slum areas where people from most downtrodden sections are living. The majority of them are illiterate and have no access to this knowledge.
“In our campaign, we would like to make use of those measures that would easily attract the masses. We are trying to reach their psychological level and are using those means that would easily bring positive change in their lives.”
They have planned to organise magic shows with the message of condom promotion and HIV/AIDS awareness, interactive one-to-one sessions, street plays, condom fairs, poster exhibitions and screening of films.
Various slums like Bapu Dham colony, Colony number 4, Daria village, Manimajra and Sanjay Colony will be covered by the volunteers of Yuvsatta during the campaign, Sharma said.
“Till now the response has been awesome as hundreds of people are participating in our activities and are attending our seminars every day. We are also distributing thousands of condom packets free of cost to the people wherever we go during our campaign,” he added.
Vanita Gupta, director of state AIDS control society, said: “The majority of (HIV) infections around the world are due to one simple reason, that people are not using condoms.
“So our aim is to educate people, especially youths and women, and to motivate them to use condoms to prevent not only HIV infections but also the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.”
Yuvsatta had earlier opened ‘condom bars’ in its field offices in different slums to distribute free condoms.
A Yuvsatta volunteer told IANS: “We are also working among sex workers living in these slums. Initially we faced many difficulties but gradually we have been able to break the social taboo.
“Now more females are participating in our campaigns. We are also distributing female condoms to them and educating them about their rights and the need for safe sex. After this campaign we have plans to launch a month-long campaign solely to promote female condoms.”
The centrally administered city of Chandigarh has a population of nearly 1.1 million, of which an estimated 300,000 are migrants who live in slums.
Raju Verma, an electrician who lives in Bapu Dham colony, told IANS: “They told me about the benefits of using condoms and about the HIV/AIDS virus. I already knew about condoms but I had no idea what this disease is like and how it spreads.
“Earlier I had discussed this disease with my friends but they were also not completely aware of it. Now I will certainly try to bring my friends to this camp.”
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: aids awareness, aids control, condom promotion, government organisation, grain market, healthy lifestyle, hiv aids, magic shows, poster exhibitions, psychological level, responsible behaviour, safe sex, sanjay, slum areas, slums, state aids, transport area, truck drivers, union territory, vulnerable areas