New Delhi : With a huge population of HIV/AIDS patients in the country, condom is no more a taboo word for Indians. A new UN study found that 95 percent of Indian male believe condom can prevent the spread of disease and 70 percent of women know where to get it.
After three years’ awareness campaign, jointly organised by UNAIDS and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), a report released Wednesday revealed “dramatic results in key areas of reproductive health knowledge, HIV awareness and sexual rights”.
The campaign, nicknamed ‘CHARCA’, has its focus on six high-prevalence districts of Aizwal (Mizoram), Bellary (Karnataka), Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Udaipur (Rajasthan), and Kishanganj (Bihar).
The incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) across the six districts is down from 55 percent to 17 percent. Only five percent of young women in Guntur, six percent in Kanpur, and eight percent in Kishanganj were willing to accept husbands with extra-marital relationships.
The study found that the percentage of young women aware of where to get male condoms has increased significantly. In Guntur, the awareness has reached 84 percent women as against 30 percent three years back. Similarly, 91 percent women in Aizwal now know about it – an increase of 49 percent.
Releasing the results and recommendations of the project, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes said: “The results attained in three years have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of a grassroots district-level intervention that empowers women to protect themselves and a possible route-map to rid the nation of this devastating pandemic.”
NACO director general K. Sujatha Rao said: “Given the vulnerability and risk of young women and the difficulty of mass reach of awareness programmes, CHARCA has been successful in building effective models of district-level interventions which address women’s empowerment through an expanded response.”
She said the recommendations of the joint campaign group would find a place in the National Aids Control Programme (NACP III).
“99 percent of men in Aizwal believe condoms protect people against AIDS. Across all districts, the belief that condoms protect against HIV/AIDS has increased from 65 percent to 95 percent among all men,” the report said.
“Awareness of single-partner sex as a preventive measure against STIs increased from an average of 40 percent to 76 percent across districts. Among districts Bellary and Guntur have made substantial progress,” the study found.