Cellular Ringtone Launched in India To Promote Condom Use, Curb Spread of HIV
The BBC World Service Trust has produced a cellular phone ringtone in India that says "condom, condom" to promote safer sex and curb the spread of HIV in the country, AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 8/19). The ringtone features a professional singer repeating the word "condom" more than 50 times -- a "playful approach" that some advocates hope will "spark discussion and make condoms more socially acceptable," according to the AP/Google.com (Dolnick, AP/Google.com, 8/19). Campaign organizers also hope that the ringtone will become popular among youth in the country (AFP/Google.com, 8/19). The initiative is supported by the National AIDS Control Organisation and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The initiative is part of NACO's efforts to reach youth through projects such as films, online games, mobile advertising and downloads, as well as television and radio advertisements to engage young people in discussions about safer sex. "We have already launched an ad campaign based on the ringtone on Doordarshan and will go on air on cable and satellite networks by Wednesday," Mayank Agarwal, a joint director at NACO, said (Sharma, Hindustan Times, 8/19).
"Ringtones have become such personal statements that a specially created condom ringtone seemed just the right way of combining a practical message with a fun approach," Radharani Mitra, creative director at BBC World Service Trust, said, adding, "The idea is to tackle the inhibitions and taboos that can be associated with condoms" (AFP/Google.com, 8/19). Yvonne MacPherson, BBC World Service Trust country director for India, said that organizers have made a "conscious effort to move the concept of the condom away from negative association, like HIV and sex work." She added, "Condoms are actually health products, and if you have a condom and you use it, you are seen to be smart and responsible" (AP/Google.com, 8/19).
The ringtone can be downloaded at condomcondom.org. According to recent data, India is the fastest-growing cell phone market worldwide with 270 million users -- an increase of 57% in one year (AFP/Google.com, 8/19). Since the ringtone was launched on Aug. 8, it has been downloaded about 60,000 times, according to MacPherson (AP/Google.com, 8/19).