The Brazilian ministry of Health has begun distributing condoms directly in schools alarmed with high rates of AIDS among adolescents. To make things easier for youths who often feel uncomfortable asking for a condom, a machine is being tested that delivers them automatically.
Initially only two states will have a taste of the new machine.
“The machines give them out free of charge. School is an important place. We have long had a policy of sexual reproductive rights. The distribution of condoms is part of our strategy,” said the minister of Health, José Temporão.
The condoms are available in 19,000 schools throughout the country. The machines are still in a test period, only in the states of Paraíba and Santa Catarina, but should be placed in other states soon.
“We want adolescents to have more access to prevention. Our research shows that among those interviewed, 45% did not use a condom during their last relationship. They say they did not have one,” explains Mariangela Simão, the head of the ministry’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Program.
As for Carnaval, Simão says that 55 million condoms will be made available free of charge. Carnaval celebrations start Friday.
The government is also airing a new TV ad featuring a talking condom that loudly reminds young people to take him along when they go out to party. Temporão explained that this year’s campaign is focusing on educating young women and young gay men to use protection.
The slogan is: “Condom. For love, passion or just sex. Always use it.”
Last year the government distributed nearly 500 million free condoms throughout Brazil, or an average 2.6 condoms for every citizen. The government hasn’t said how many will be handed out this year.
As worldwide numbers of AIDS rise (33 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, with 1.7 million new HIV infections in Latin America in 2007), the message is clear in Brazil: We can’t keep the party going if we don’t have the right party favors.