Lack of knowledge and poor awareness amongst people is a barrier in achieving the target of zero HIV/AIDS infection by the year 2020. Condoms are the cheapest and most convenient mode of protection against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.
And with the latest order issued by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry to ban the broadcast of condoms commercials from 6 am to 10 pm may not help in reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.
In the light of increasing access, the ministry has issued a directive following “complaints” regarding their adverse impact on kids and teenagers.
The I&B ministry has cited the Cable Network Rules of 1994 that bars advertisements that “create in them [children] any interest in unhealthy practices”.
Not to forget that advertisements are the greatest source of information not only for adults but also for teenagers. It will be a mistake on the government’s part to impose a blanket ban on ads. If they feel that condom ads are leading people towards experimentation and sex, then they are wrong.
Its high time that sex education should be imparted to children as young as 10 in order to curb unwanted early pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths and STDs across the world.
According to researchers at the Georgetown University, parents should shed their inhibition and talk to their young adolescents about sexual matters as young as age of 10.
Researchers say that sexuality begins emerging in ‘younger adolescents’, defined as those between 10 to 14 and this is the time when a kid may first experience changes in their body and start experimenting with sexual behaviours, ‘wallstreetotc.com’ reported.
In case these the kids are not well informed about safe sex, they may take uncalled for and fatal risks, researchers said.
India is the third largest country with HIV prevalence. Also use of condoms is considered as a taboo in some parts of culturaly vast country.
According to a National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report, in 2005-06, 28.5 per cent women in India had knowledge about HIV/AIDS. The awareness increased marginally in the year 2015 as 34.6% knew about the disease. The report also stated that 30.3 percent Indian men knew about HIV/AIDS in the year 2005-06, which increased to 41.9 percent in 2015-16.
The report also added that from 2008 HIV infection has decreased to 66 percent and the number of deaths by 54 per cent. India reports 86,000 infections and about 67,000 deaths every year due to the disease.
AIDS claimed a million lives in 2016, almost half the 2005 toll that marked the peak of the deadly epidemic, said a UN report.
The year 2016 saw 1.8 million new infections, almost half the record number of some 3.5 million in 1997, said the report.
In total, 76.1 million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, since the epidemic started in the 1980s. Some 35 million have died.
Also, no sharp decline has been reported in the past two to three years and this is a major barrier in accomplishing the target.
NCPCR welcomes ban on condom ads on TV between 6 am-10 pm:
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Tuesday welcomed the order of the government asking television channels not to air condom advertisement between 6 am and 10 pm.
"We have received complaints regarding condom advertisements showing inappropriate content. We welcome the decision of the government," NCPCR chairperson Stuti Kacker told PTI. The ministry said that it was brought to its notice that some channels carry advertisements of condoms repeatedly whichare alleged to be indecent, especially for children.
Criticism on Condom Ads:
# Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover
Earlier this year, Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover faced many criticisms for promoting condom brand. Bipasha spoke on such criticism and said, "The idea is to create awareness on the subject; it's the need of the hour. I am doing no wrong by endorsing condoms’’.
She further added, "It was going to be shot by one of the most trusted photographers and ad-filmmaker in the business, Prasad Naik. So, I knew it would be aesthetically shot. Also, the thought behind the campaign — 'give her more' appealed to us’’.
Even Karan Singh Grover took his Instagram handle to share the ad and wrote, "In a country that has the second largest population in the world.. we still have taboos on just the words sex and condoms… but not the actual act. Let’s talk more… read more and learn more about all the things that can be avoided just by the use of a simple precaution. With condoms you can have planned pregnancies and protected sex… which can curb the growth HIV and STD cases. As a couple we believe in this that’s why we have thoughtfully endorsed it’’.
# Controversial advertisement featuring actor Sunny Leone
Following the backlash over the controversial advertisement featuring actor Sunny Leone, Mankind Pharma withdrew the ad and issued a statement which read, “The Navratri hoardings campaign was not meant to hurt anyone's sentiments and was immediately withdrawn. We deeply regret any such incident.”
The billboards had been put up with the tagline, ‘Aa Navratrie ramo parantu prem thi (This Navratri, play, but with love).’
The hoardings were pulled down following protests by a traders’ body.
What is HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the virus, which attacks the T-cells (CD-4 cells) in the immune system. AIDS is the syndrome, which appears in the advanced stage ofHIV infection.
How is HIV Transmitted?
Sexual transmission: This can happen while having unprotected sex or sharing sex toys with someone infected with HIV.
Perinatal transmission: An HIV positive mother can pass the infection on to her child during childbirth, pregnancy, and also through breastfeeding.
Blood transmission: Also, by sharing and reusing syringes contaminated with HIV-infected blood.
Symptoms of HIV infection:
-sweats (particularly at night)
-a red rash
-unintentional weight loss
How to Avoid HIV and AIDS:
# Reduce the number of your sexual partners
# Use condoms
# Get tested and treated for STDs
# Talk to your health care provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). (PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who don’t have HIV but who are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV)
# Don’t inject drugs.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author