February, apparently, is National Safe Sex Awareness Month. For the New York-based condom company NuVo it’s an opportunity to promote the message and their product by pledging a “care package” to the NBA player who gets the most blocked shots each week of the month. NuVo, a relative newcomer in the condom market, claims on its website that it gave away over 300,000 condoms in 2011.
This number, however, is dwarfed by what’s happening in Thailand on Valentine’s Day.
The Bangkok Post reports that health workers intend to give away 60 million condoms (almost one for every person in Thailand) across the country on February 14 as part of the Public Health Ministry’s safe sex and AIDS prevention drive. The intended recipients are teenagers, young adults and commercial sex workers, all of whom make up the high-risk groups, the newspaper adds.
Distributing condoms to teenagers on Valentine’s Day is a timely intervention given the findings of a university survey which reveals that respondents from that age bracket were planning to lose their virginity on that special day. According to another survey, teenagers are engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners, highlighting the risk of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancies, says the Post, quoting Paijit Warachit, the permanent health secretary.
Thailand is often hailed as one of the few developing countries where public policy has been effective in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. Condoms have played a major role in this achievement. Thai officials aren’t resting on their laurels.