AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization which currently provides medical care and services to more than 125,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide, will mark International Condom Day (ICD)—an informal holiday observed on February 13th in conjunction with Valentine’s Day—with free condom distribution events and innovative safer sex awareness events set for over 30 cities in 15 countries around the world as well as HIV prevention media campaigns and free HIV testing events in some locations that will be taking place over the days, nights—and week—surrounding the holiday. Together, AHF and its global partners plan to distribute over one million free condoms and conduct as many as 10,000 free HIV tests in conjunction with worldwide events planned for the 2012 International Condom Day effort.
“We know that condoms are a simple, low-cost prevention method that works”
AHF’s International Condom Day events include the launch of AHF’s ‘Condom Nation’ tour from the famed Venice Beach Boardwalk in California in the United States—a 20-state, six-month nationwide tour of AHF’s specially-outfitted 53-foot long, 18 wheel big rig truck which will stop in select cities, towns and states to hand out free condoms and safer sex information in conjunction with local partners along the way. Some of the other International Condom Day events include:
- MEXICO—Puerto de Veracruz and Mérida, Yucatan: Across the country, AHF Mexico celebrates the ‘Condom Carnaval,’ which includes large scale events in Veracruz and Mérida in conjunction with those cities’ pre-Lenten Carnavals. AHF’s ‘Condom Carnaval’ will offer free HIV testing events with as many as 70,000 free condoms expected to be given out in the two cities (as the date is so close to Carnaval, a popular annual event throughout Mexico, the testing and condom distributions events will draw the public and media). In addition, ten other Mexican cities and locations will distribute as many as 75,000 additional free condoms and provide over 2,000 free HIV tests via mass testing events at many of the 12 AHF Mexico ‘Condom Carnaval’ locations.
- INDIA—New Delhi: AHF and partners in India will target sex workers at brothels in New Delhi with condom distribution and free HIV testing with goals of handing out 3,000 condoms and providing 100 free HIV tests.
- KENYA—Mombasa and Kithituni: In Kithituni, ICD will be marked on Feb. 10th at Emali, during its market day. Major activities for the day are: 1) A short public procession to capture audience attention on the events of the day, and at the same time, educate the general population. A motorbike, van and acrobats will lead the Kithituni procession. The Mombasa procession will be lead by Simba Ropa (local dancers), puppeteers and skaters. 2) Education on condom use and clarification of misconceptions or myths on condom use—the target is to have an education session with the peer educators for groups of 5-10. This will be a mobile activity targeting youth at pool sites and bars, as well as market vendors. 3) 80,000 condoms will be distributed, with a concentration on education for using condoms and their role in prevention.
- NIGERIA—Abuja; and Benue and Kogi states: AHF partners coordinating International Condom Day events in Abuja, the capital city, and in the states of Kogi and Benue, plan to target 3,000 people for free HIV testing and distribute over 23,000 condoms.
- SOUTH AFRICA—Umlazi: The ICD plan for South Africa this year is to have road shows in different venues around Umlazi from the 13th-17th of February. Road shows are mini events that take place within communities to raise awareness on different issues. The road shows in this particular week will reinforce the importance of using condoms as HIV and STD prevention measures and also encourage communities to get tested early and be linked to treatment and care, if necessary. There will be educational talks during the road shows, HIV testing as well as free condom distribution. In addition, the top 5 groups that took part in the AHF-sponsored ‘Superstar Hip Hop Competition’ last year will help attract attention and retain the crowds. Organizers of the South Africa ICD events aim to distribute 72 000 condoms during those events.
- SWAZILAND—Manzini: At the Manzini Bus Rank (main terminal), AHF will partner with PSI-Swaziland to promote the use of condoms. PSI has identified bus drivers and conductors under its most-at-risk-population (MARPS) program, and the group will be targeting them to teach them about condom use on the day. AHF will also target commuters and vendors in the market area surrounding the bus rank. This will be ideal, as it happens to be the busiest commercial area in the country. A dance competition will also be part of the entertainment as eight groups compete for cash prizes. Other local drama and singing groups will join in to capture the crowd’s attention on the day. HIV testing will also be part of the day, with a goal of 400 free tests undertaken, with necessary referrals for ART or support groups for those who are eligible. Over 36,000 LOVE condoms are expected be distributed to people who participate in the promotion including transport operators. A further 100,000 condoms will be distributed in the local newspaper.
- ZAMBIA—Lusaka: A formal ceremony with local partners including the Ministry of Health will take place in Lusaka, including a mobile HIV testing set up. The plan is to target 1,000 individuals for free HIV testing; the partners also intend to distribute 100,000 free condoms.
- ESTONIA: International Condom Day partners in Estonia plan to distribute over 10,000 free condoms.
- LITHUANIA—Vilnius: A manifest calling for lower prices and increased access to condoms, with information on the use of condoms in sexual educational programs will be sent to members of Parliament, NGOs, and journalists. AHF’s local partners intend to conduct 500 free HIV tests and distribute 6,000 free condoms. In addition, the company FORUMCINEMA will show a specially-produced HIV prevention message video clip—and distribute free condoms and flyers—at the beginning of each film screening in seven movie theatres from February 14th—17th.
- UKRAINE—Kiev and Odessa: Over 7,000 free condoms will be distributed in Ukraine. Billboards promoting condom use will be posted in Kiev, and several Fashion AID Condom Promotion events will take place at colleges and universities in conjunction with Fashion AID and the Olena Pinchuk Foundation. In Odessa, a person dressed up as the ‘Love Condom Man’ mascot will attract attention as he and others distribute free ‘Love Condoms’ and leaflets in the downtown area. Posters will also be distributed at health institutions, universities, several bars, shops, and over 3,000 condoms will be distributed at hospitals, institutions, on the streets and in shops.
“We know that condoms are a simple, low-cost prevention method that works,” said Terri Ford, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Senior Director of Global Policy and Advocacy. “With a new focus on treatment as prevention and other recently embraced prevention strategies, there is a worry that the relevance of ‘the condom’ will be forgotten or diminished in the equation of global AIDS control. That would be a big mistake, as condoms remain both the most effective and cost-effective weapon against HIV/AIDS. Yet, remarkably, we see continual shortages and stock-outs on the ground through the world. That is unacceptable and must be remedied sooner than later. With our Love Condom campaign on Valentine’s Day, we look to spark a revitalized commitment to accessible and quality condom supply and distribution around the world. Condoms save lives – we simply cannot forget that.”
Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President said, “While awareness of condoms may be high, availability and easy access continues to be a barrier to consistent condom use around the world. We continue to advocate for condoms to be made more available to the public, as condom use is the best strategy for reducing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. AHF is pleased to once again mark International Condom Day with worldwide events to encourage the public to put knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention and condom use into action, and embrace condom use as one of the primary strategies to reduce HIV transmission.”
For more information, please visit www.aidshealth.org or www.lovecondom.org