Nearly three years after Bill Gates was greeted with a 14-feet-high condom, the contraceptive is back. Not the giant-sized ones, but the more practical ones that will be slid under doors with the daily newspapers.
When Y.S. Rajsekhar Reddy came to power after the 2004 elections, he decreed that the Chandrababu Naidu's condom campaign should be done away with and that the state should take up other methods of sensitising people about AIDS.
So, authorities at AP State Aids Control Society (APSACS) capped the condom campaign and the giant inflatable condoms were sent to the storeroom. Now they are making a comeback, proving that you can not suppress a good idea for long. It will come wrapped in a strawberry-coloured cover and delivered at homes attached with newspapers.
The campaign will start at the district headquarter town of Nizamabad in the backward Telangana region. Nizamabad, with a population of around 5 lakh, has one of the highest incidence of HIV cases in the state. (Three out of 100 persons screened tested HIV positive here). Based on the feedback, the scheme will be gradually extended to other parts.
"We thought that delivering the condoms with newspapers would be the surest way of reaching people. We are talking to newspaper distributors and hawkers to pitch in for this social cause," said AIDS control officer Dr Dinesh.
The authorities hope to distribute 10,000 condoms a day with the newspapers. The target groups are people living in poorer localities and migrant workers. While the bulk of the condoms would be delivered with the morning daily, a small number would be distributed along with a locally-published evening newspaper.
Dr Dinesh says that they conducted a survey among the targeted populace. The initial feedback was mixed. Some women found it embarrassing, but most men thought it was a great idea.