India Seeks Novel Ways to Tackle AIDS
November 21, 2005
From tapping into the national obsession with cricket to using advertising slogans on soft-drink bottles, India is employing a variety of methods to promote HIV prevention messages. In the world's second-most populous nation, condom use is still low and most HIV cases are in rural areas.
In July, the country's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) introduced a bold campaign in newspapers asking cricket-crazed Indians to save their "wickets" and not lose their "stumps" to AIDS. To illustrate the point, the advertisement featured three cricket wickets covered with condoms, a significant departure from more conservative TV ads like the one featuring Indian captain Rahul Dravid wearing a helmet and asking people to protect themselves.
The cricket ads were followed by another newspaper advertisement warning readers in India, where openly discussing sex is taboo, to remain "Not out!" to HIV/AIDS by practicing safe sex.
S.Y. Quraishi, NACO's outgoing chief, said his agency is in talks with Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. to have the soda giants put generic messages like "For an AIDS-free India" on bottles destined for rural areas. "Fighting HIV is a national cause," said Quraishi. "We need to get the message across and want to piggyback on Coke and Pepsi," he said, adding that NACO also wants to send packs of condoms with crates of soft drinks to stores in rural areas.
NACO, which has come under fire in the past for its sluggish response to HIV prevention, said it is ready to push the envelope of what is socially acceptable in order to get the message across. "Some people may be shy but you have to get them to talk about sex and AIDS," said Quraishi.
11.17.05; Kamil Zaheer
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.