World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year and the aim behind this observation is to spread awareness regarding this deadly diseases.
The day is aimed to aware the people- both young and old- about safe sex.
People are mostly told about the use of proper safety measures to be taken so that one is not infected with the deadly disease.
As a common Indian, I have mostly heard that the use of contraceptives- especially condoms- can help to prevent AIDS.
But the problem here is that we all talk and advertise about male condoms and nothing about the female condoms. Well, aren’t a male and a female equally at the risk of being attacked by the disease? If male condoms are necessary, aren't female condoms essential too?
Sex is a taboo in our Indian society; our great and morally ‘high’ Indian society. And maybe this is the reason that today India is the second-highest populous country of the world. And maybe this is also the reason as why (it is believed) in a decade or two India will be the most populous nation of the world.
What the heck am I scribbling now? I was about to write about AIDS awareness. But…what do I write? Yes, of course! Awareness!
Penning down here is an experience I had a few years back when I decided to do a mini survey in Guwahati and find out from the people from various walks of life about World AIDS Day and why it is observed and also about female condoms.
I must confess here, by endeavour out wasn't either a grand success or a complete failure and it was a mixed-bag of emotions- some high and some low.
I mostly received some glares and a few stares in return and all of this suggested that I was asking the wrong questions?
“You journalists are so f***ing nonsense that you go on asking people about HIV and AIDS on the streets openly? And how dare you ask this to a lady? Don’t you have a family?” said a respondent, who probably was in her mid-40s.
And then there was this man, rather say the youth of in his mid-30s. At first, he glared at me and then looked around and then said, “What do you think I f**k around with anybody and everybody that I will have AIDS? You f***ing moron! Seriously, Assamese journalists are a piece of garbage. Why don’t you join some school and learn the basics of journalism brother?”
And I was left wondering as what wrong did I ask? I simply asked about the importance of World AIDS Day!
And when I asked about female condoms, most respondents expressed their ignorance and said they hardly knew if something called female condoms also existed in the world. The tone, as usual, was rude and I could feel I was asking all the wrong questions!
But everybody was not harsh and I admit it with all my sincerity.
“HIV/AIDS is a very deadly disease and the disease is yet to have a cure. The disease attacks a person only due to the ignorance of the victim. The day is observed to create awareness about the disease, the way it spreads and about all the myths associated,” said this young 19-year-old boy from my neighbourhood.
“My cousin has the disease and he got infected due to some drugs sharing, I don’t know well. He was only 15 when he got the disease. Today he is 22 and brother I must say, he realised his fault quite late,” continued my young teenager friend.
“This phase of my life is very critical as this is the time when children of my age come to know about their sexuality, their carnal desires and if we sway slightly to the wrong side, I mean indulge in casual sex without protections or enter the world of drugs, then…,” he concluded.
Awesome! I felt awesome! The future is bright and not dark.
The government has been spending crores of rupees in the name of HIV/AIDS awareness programmes and if teenagers of today are aware even to the slightest, I am sure the efforts would yield fruits.
Protection in sex is very essential and there are reports that in many states of the nation the sex workers have refused intercourse if the guy refuses to use a condom- either a male condom or a female one.
The third position in an exam might sound good, but not when it comes to HIV/AIDS!
India has the third-highest population of HIV/AIDS patients in the world.
This World AIDS Day, let's spread the message of safe sex and tell everyone that AIDS has only one cure and that is prevention.
Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.