/ 1 May 2007

‘Condom bar’ to help battle Aids in India

A discotheque with a condom theme is scheduled to open in the northern Indian town of Chandigarh as part of an effort to make young people aware of Aids and the need for safe sex, news reports said on Tuesday.

The bar’s interior is decorated with real condoms, it serves beer in mugs the shape of the prophylactic and the staff’s uniforms are covered in condom prints, IANS news agency reported. The bar, which opens on Wednesday, will distribute free condoms to customers and sell them as well.

Billed as India’s first ”condom bar”, the concept is being promoted and implemented by a government-supported organisation — the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (Citco).

Citco came up with the idea after it was approached by some NGOs working in the area of HIV/Aids.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids, India has 5,7-million people living with HIV/Aids, the highest in the world.

In conservative Indian society, studies have reported that men are hesitant to buy or use condoms, which are seen as a prime tool in fighting the spread of HIV/Aids.

”Condoms should be seen as friends and people should get over inhibitions regarding it. We at Citco wanted to fulfil our social commitment and this bar has been initiated in this context,” said Jasbir Singh Bir, Citco MD.

Aids-awareness initiatives in India have, on occasion, raised the ire of ultra-conservative groups.

Hollywood star Richard Gere’s kissing Indian actress Shilpa Shetty at a public function to increase Aids awareness raised a spate of protests and even a lawsuit against the actor alleging that he had indulged in obscene behaviour that went against Indian culture. — Sapa-dpa