International Condom Day Raises Safe Sex Awareness

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Scoot over Valentine’s Day: you are about to share the day with International Condom Day, an informal holiday planned and hosted by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world’s largest AIDS organization. This weekend, events to raise safe sex awareness will take place in 32 cities in 13 countries around the world.

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) currently provides medical care and services to more than 127,000 people in 22 countries. Among its many programs is a mass testing initiative to identify and treat the 25 million people in the world who do not know they are infected with HIV. This program will require 1 billion tests performed annually.

In honor of International Condom Day, the AHF is promoting educational free condom distribution and safer sex awareness events along with media campaigns around the world. The nonprofit has organized an aggressive program called the LOVE Condoms Campaign, whose goal is to achieve 100 percent access to free condoms. According to the AHF, “the time is now to call for CONDOMS to be brought back to the forefront of HIV prevention.”

According to the “AIDS Epidemic Update December 2008,” 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008, and 2.1 million of them were under the age of 15 years. The report also noted that 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2008, and there were 2 million AIDS-related deaths that year.

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In the United States, safer sex awareness events will occur in five locations, including Venice Beach, California, where people on rollerblades will hand out condoms on Muscle Beach on the Boardwalk. The other four US cities include San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, and Ft. Lauderdale/Miami.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, volunteers will distribute free condoms and roses at entertainment venues, such as nightclubs and city parks. Free condoms will also be handed out in Mombasa, Kenya, where volunteers will target workers and patrons who frequent the ferry area of the port city. Tijuana, Mexico is holding an all-day event at the San Ysidro International Border Crossing and additional condom distribution events in Mexico City and in Tuxtla Gutierres, Chiapas. The African country with the highest prevalence of AIDS in the world, Swaziland, will host stage performances, testing, and distribution of free condoms.

Other cities in India, Russia, the Ukraine, Estonia, and Lithuania will also hold events. Terri Ford, AHF’s Senior Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, notes that they chose Valentine’s weekend because it “is the perfect time to re-enforce the message to ‘Love yourself, Love your Partner.’ As a non-traditional holiday, International Condom Day also offers an unorthodox, yet highly creative opportunity for groups around the world to get the word out about the importance of condom use and HIV testing.”

Studies show that condom use is an effective way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. AHF actively campaigns and supports efforts to achieve 100 percent condom use, from its recent battle to require performers in porn films to use condoms in California to promoting the AHF/Magic Johnson “Testing America” Tour (a 48-stage cross country HIV testing campaign). International Condom Day is yet one more innovative way to achieve AHF's goal and raise awareness of safe sex practices.

SOURCES:
“AIDS Epidemic Update December 2008”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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