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Updated: November 25, 2009 16:43 IST

The ‘C' of safety

PAROMITA PAIN
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Play safe
AFP Play safe

The use of condoms is the most important method to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS. Adopt this simple mantra as World AIDS Day comes around on December 1.

At one time AIDS and HIV were thought to be matters of worry only for drug users, gay people and adults. But according to a WHO report, “Young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV: 15-24 year old account for 50 per cent of new cases.” And unsafe sexual practices contribute to much of the transmission rates.

A simple mantra - ‘I will keep myself and my partner safe”- is all that it takes to not be part of this statistic. But this isn't just about covering up. It's more about celebrating the ‘c' of real cool. Doff your hat to the Condom. Studies have pointed out that increased condom use among young people is the single most important method of preventing the spread of HIV-AIDS among young people.

Alarming facts

As the WHO categorically states, “Prevention is the mainstay of the response to AIDS. Condoms are an integral and essential part of comprehensive prevention and care programmes, and their promotion must be accelerated. In 2007, an estimated 2.7 million people became newly infected with HIV. About 45 per cent of them were young people from 15 to 24 years old, with young girls at greater risk of infection than boys.”

The female condom has made it debut in India but is yet to be freely available. So let's focus on the boys. Usually a subject of many giggles and sniggers, the humble condom has numbers to prove its worth. Dr. Kevin De Cock, Director of the HIV/AIDS Department on condoms and HIV prevention, emphasises, “The evidence is that latex condoms if used consistently and correctly are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV.”

So straight or gay, bi-sexual or bi-curious, if you are sexually active, this story is for you. We may not yet have the famous vending machines of Amsterdam in our malls yet. But we do have experts from Durex, premium condom makers, to tell us more. Catch the fundas from Vishal Vyas, Group Product Manager, Durex.

Is the condom the best method to prevent unwanted pregnancies and HIV AIDS?

There are various types of contraception methods but the condom is the only way to avoid Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDs. The other option is to not to have sex. Clinical studies confirm that high quality latex condoms, when used correctly and consistently, are an effective barrier to the transmission of HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy.

What are the advantages of the condom over other methods of birth control?

The humble rubber's advantages are many.

Absolutely no side effects

Only needs to be used when you have sex, unlike IUD and sterilisation

Help protect against STIs, including HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer

Easily available

Economical

Come in many shapes and sizes to suit everyone.

In short, it's easier to find a condom that works than great fitting jeans. While on the topic of jeans, watch out for Durex Jeans. “Durex Jeans is especially aimed at young people,” explains Vyas. “It's a comfort wear (anatomically shaped) condoms and that's why it's named Jeans. The whole idea is to excite youth with this offering positioned specifically for them.” The two-piece pack is priced at Rs.20 and your local paanwalla stocks it.

Vyas says. “Condoms, in one shape or form, have been around for thousands of years. With new technology, they're thinner and more sensitive than ever – in fact, you would hardly know you were wearing one. Besides there are textured condoms, which gives extra stimulation, coloured, flavoured ones and list goes on. Condoms are happy things but watch out for tears and slip offs, especially during intercourse.

What are STIs?

Sexually transmitted infections. There are many kinds of bacteria and virus that cause STIs. The majority of them spread through unsafe sex. Types of STIs include: Syphilis, Herpes, Lympho Granuloma Venerum (LGV), Gonorrhoea, Genital Warts,Chlamydia, among others. Think you have caught one? Contact a doctor immediately, preferably a Veneriologist.

(Visit http://www.durex.com/en-IN/SexualLifestyle/STI's to learn more about STIs.)

Be a friend

Know that a friend and partner is planning a night out or a trip out of town? Be a friend. Give them a condom along with the mandatory chips and salsa dip. They will add to the spice of the moment for sure. And you will have a grateful friend.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA,), says, “Young people remain at the centre of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in terms of rates of infection, vulnerability, impact, and potential for change.” Focus on these three words, “potential for change”. Turn to Gandhism and start the process with the man in the mirror: you. Play safe. Use a condom.

Still have nagging questions? Visit: www.avert.org/condom.htm for some no-nonsense gyaan.

Young and gay? This site is for you just as is safe sex: www.avert.org/young-gay-sex.htm

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