'Love Condoms': 10 lakh condoms ordered online in 69 days
The launch of the 'Love Condoms' initiative seems to have removed the stigma around condoms in India to some degree. Within 69 days of launch of the free condom distribution scheme, 9.56L condoms were ordered: 5.14L by communities/NGOs and 4.41L by individuals. It is a commendable development in a country which has the third highest number of HIV/AIDS cases and a 1.32bn-strong population.
HIV cases and population in India at alarming levels
According to the National Aids Control Organization, India has 21 lakh HIV-positive people. However, only 12 lakh are registered with the government. The WHO also expects India's population to surpass China's in six years, and reach the 1.7bn mark by 2050.
Shockingly, use of contraceptives and condoms is abysmally low
Despite alarming trends, use of contraceptives declined 35% during 2008-2016; condom use fell by 52%, and vasectomies by 73%. Meanwhile, health ministry data showed abortions and use of emergency pills, both with health risks, doubled. The onus of birth control seems to be on women - compared to 3,00,000 men who agreed to vasectomies, over 5.5mn women agreed to intrauterine contraceptive device in 2008-09.
What was the Love Condom initiative about?
The 'Love Condoms' initiative was launched by the charity AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF). Since earlier, condoms have been distributed for free to high-risk groups, but this was the first time they were being provided for free to all. Those wishing to get free condoms can reach out to AHF on 1800 102 8102 (toll-free). You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is the new scheme helping?
AHF was surprised by the response: they had ordered 10L condoms till December, but ran out by July first week. Demand was highest in Delhi and Karnataka. Now they have ordered another 20L for November and 50L for January. Experts say the anonymity helps avoid embarrassment: the seller doesn't know the customer and the delivery person doesn't know what's being delivered.
Government and companies do their bit to boost condom use
In 2015, the government redesigned its half-century-old Nirodh condoms with "attractive images of couples" in an attempt to draw in customers. Durex also launched its new line, Durex Jeans, to battle social stigma and embarrassment around buying condoms publicly - the package resembles leather badges on denim jeans. "Asking for Durex Jeans should be cool," said Rohit Jindal, marketing director for Reckitt India.