Indian Women Should Protect Themselves From HIV by Using Condoms, Official Says

Women living in India should protect themselves from HIV by using condoms because they "cannot trust men" to be "careful," Renuka Chowdhury, India's minister for women and child development, said on Monday at a meeting of the National Women Forum of the Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS, Reuters reports. According to Chowdhury, the sexual behavior of many men in India is fueling the spread of HIV. Women "cannot trust men or [their] husbands, with apologies to the men present here," she said, adding, "If you believe that men will be careful, then you can forget about protecting yourself."

According to some advocates and officials, many women contract HIV after their husbands visit commercial sex workers, and most women do not have the power to negotiate condom use with their husbands.

Women are "so embarrassed to ask about condoms," Chowdhury said, adding, "Women need to get condoms to protect themselves. Let the men be suspicious." In an attempt to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, India earlier this month launched a $2.8 billion campaign that will focus on condom promotion over the next five years, Reuters reports. Under the plan, the country aims to increase use of condoms from 2.1 billion condoms this year to 3.5 billion by 2012 (Zaheer, Reuters, 7/16).

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