By P. Vijian|
NEW DELHI, Aug 5 2007 (Bernama)-- Indian sex workers are toying with a new paan-flavoured condom to cajole their paan-loving clients to use contraceptive to prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS.
Paan is a blend of betel nut leaves, tobacco and strong spices that, after chewing, gives a pungent taste and discharges a mouthful of strong, red liquid that is spat out. Chewing paan is a popular north Indian culture that suffuses across the society as well as in the sub-continent.
Paan-chewing is also popular among Indian sex workers, and they decided to test their own novelty of paan-soaked condoms that is now becoming a hit in some parts of the sex industry.
Family Health International (FHI), in collaboration with Hindustan Latex Ltd, a leading condom manufacturer, launched the paan-flavoured condom recently in Mumbai -- home to a large number of sex workers in India.
"We conducted a survey among sex workers in Mumbai and Chennai and they themselves came out with the idea of the paan condom because many men visiting sex workers are fond of paan," a spokesperson from Hindustan Latex told Bernama.
"In fact, a test was carried out on different flavours -- chocolate, strawberry, banana and paan. Paan was most liked by sex workers," he added.
These new flavoured condoms would be distributed free to the high-risk population in Mumbai and other cities where the sex industry is thriving. An estimated eight million pieces will be needed annually.
FHI director of the programme, Dr Sanjeev Singh Gaikwad, said the paan condoms were developed noting the taste preferences of the local people.
The easy availability and quality of this condom has been well appreciated by sex workers. So far, the project has distributed 13.8 million condoms.
"Responding to the need expressed by sex workers, various flavours of condom were tested. The project developed a new paan flavour, keeping in mind the preferences of the community," added Sanjeev.
Indian condom producers are experimenting with different flavours to encourage more Indian men, especially those seeking services of sex workers, to use the contraceptive to curb HIV/Aids that has infected nearly three million people in the country.
Sanjeev said various condom promotions were implemented but the basic product had remained the same during all these years.
In the commercial market, various innovations like ribbed, dotted, and benzocaine-lubricated condoms have been tried.
"However, the condom promotion with targeted interventions remain confined to normal condoms supplied for the family planning programmes," he noted.