The swanky red condom vending machines, though grabbing attention of passers-by at several vantage points in the city, are not getting a “warm” response from Delhiites who are hesitant to pick the contraceptive publically, says the National AIDS Control Organisation.
NACO, which has recently installed about 1,500 CVMs for the people to have “easy access” to quality contraceptives in an effort to control the rising menace of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD), said the machines are getting a “lukewarm” response.
The agency, however, feels that it is because of lack of awareness as the new machines have been introduced only two months back.
The new condom dispensers which sport the tag of “Josh” have been placed at several “strategic” places like railway stations, bus stops, public toilets, hospitals and community centres.
“So far, only 20 to 25 packets are being taken from a CVM on a monthly basis as a large number of people are not aware of the new system which we have introduced with several quality upgrades,” said Mayank Aggarwal, Deputy Director NACO.
The agency had expected an output of 200 to 300 packets per month from a single machine, he said.
To attract a maximum number of men, NACO in collaboration with the state-owned Hindustan Latex Limited has introduced a “quality” condom at a reasonable price of Rs five in the vending machines.
It seems that men in Delhi prefer to whisper in the ears of a chemist for a condom rather than walking up to a CVM at a public place.
“It is very embarrassing to take condoms out at a bus stand or so in full public glare. It is congenial to buy it from the chemist’s shop,” Shakeb Ahmed, who works in a food outlet, said.
“Several times I went to a machine placed near the bus stand in my neighbourhood, but every time I found women standing there. I cannot get a condom before women,” said Praveen, a driver in a travel agency.
“Putting condom dispensers in public places is a western concept and it will take time for a conservative society like ours to adopt such practices,” said Rahul Mishra, a PR professional.
NACO is now planning to launch an awareness campaign. “We will soon launch a campaign to make people aware of these CVMs through all forms of mass media such as radio, TV, and print. The campaign will also focus on the overall promotion of condom usage,” Aggarwal said.