Shopping at the mall, dinner, a long drive — a beautiful date, but nothing more. After all, condom nahin toh kuch nahin. For the first time, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has tried to address the growing concern of premarital sex with its latest advertisement campaign to promote condom usage.The new campaign, launched on January 28, has been produced by BBC World Service Trust. NACO has spent a whopping Rs 7 crore to book air time on radio and TV channels for a month. The advertisements will be on air till February 28.
The radio advertisement features a post-date conversation between two girls. While one girl tells the other about her date — shopping, dinner and long drive — the other asks her what happened afterwards. To which the first girl replies: “Kuch nahin. Condom nahin toh kuch nahin.”However, the TV advertisement, which will be aired at prime time, is more conventional, sticking to the marital sex formula.
In the past, NACO has always used advertisements which only refer to marital sex. “It is refreshing to see an advertisement which is minus the usual markers like mangalsutra or wedding ring or a sari-clad women. The advertisement is in keeping with the times, and encourages the youth to be careful. It is a bold move on NACO’s part. Premarital sex is a growing concern and needs to be highlighted, but the message is for the urban youth,” said Rishikant, an HIV/AIDS activist working for Shakti Vahini, an NGO focussing on promoting awareness amongst commercial sex workers.
But authorities at the Health Ministry maintained that the campaign does not refer to premarital sex. “We have been trying to normalise condom usage. Our key concerns are avoiding unwanted pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases among the high-risk population. There is no mention of premarital sex,” said Mayank Agarwal, Joint Director in charge of NACO’s condom promotion campaign.
“The campaign is based on research which points to low-risk perception among people, which is the leading cause of few people choosing to use condoms. The entire idea is to promote information about safe sex without getting dragged into a morality debate. The focus is on providing information so that people can choose to have safe sex,” said Priyanka Dutt, project manager, BBC World Service Trust.The advertisement marks the latest phase in the three-year mass media campaign to make condom use more socially acceptable. It was preceded by the internationally acclaimed “condom ring tone” campaign.