September 12, 2008 / 1:05 AM / 11 years ago

Mobile phone condom ring-tone sings safe sex to India

CHENNAI, India (Reuters Life!) - A mobile phone ring-tone that sings “condom, condom, condom” has attracted over 270,000 downloads since its launch last month, helping to spread the message of safe sex in India, according to organizers.

The “Condom a Capella” ring-tone, that has the word “condom” sung in many overlapping melodies, is the work of an Indian duo, Rupert Fernandes and Vijay Prakash, and part of a campaign produced by the BBC World Service trust in India.

The website, where the ring-tone can be heard, has had over 2 million hits.

Yvonne MacPherson, Country Director, India, for the BBC World Service Trust, said this was the first time a mobile ring-tone had been used to communicate a social or public health message.

“We wanted to create a conversation piece that would get people talking and ultimately break down the taboo about condoms,” she told Reuters Health.

“We want condoms to be seen as any other health product.”

The campaign is targeting the increasing number of people in India using mobile phones which is presently estimated at over 250 million.

According to latest UNAIDS fact sheet on India states, about 2.4 million people are living with HIV in India but only about half of the at-risk population have access to HIV prevention measures.

Stigma and taboo associated with sex education are the major challenges facings HIV/AIDS prevention programs in India. Less a third of the young population surveyed could correctly identify the ways to prevent HIV infection, the UNAIDS report states.

Reporting by C. Vidya Shankar, MD, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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