Ministry distributes condoms at meet

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In a bold step in its fight against HIV/AIDS, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry on Thursday distributed condoms at a national convention for leaders of youth and student wings of political parties.

Condoms were given along with AIDS awareness information literature.

Inaugurating the convention, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for creating awareness of the hazards of unsafe sexual practices.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said it was important to talk about safe sex and treat condom as any other medical device.

If it was only the condom, which could save people from a life of suffering and eventually death, "why should we be shy of talking about it?"

Dr. Ramadoss said it was necessary to spread the values of abstinence up to a certain age, faithfulness to one's partner and using condom if required. ``We have been focussing on this group — at the school, college and university — and next year we hope to cover 150 lakh schools and to implement AIDS awareness programmes in more than 400 districts which aim at accessing the youth with our messages. ''

For making the fight against HIV/AIDS a national movement, civil society should be involved.

The Human Resource Development Ministry accepted the promotion of HIV/AIDS education as an integral part of its programmes and was earmarking funds in its budget.