Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday rejected reports that he underplayed the role of condoms in fighting AIDS but insisted that official campaigns should focus on safe sex as a holistic concept, which includes highlighting the role of “fidelity to single partners”.
His statement on informing people on the supremacy of fidelity as an AIDS prevention measure is not only a piece of cultural advice but also a scientific one, he said.
“Any experienced NGO activist knows that condoms sometimes break while being used. That is why government campaigns in India, whether through the National Aids Control Organisation or the state governments, should focus on safe sex as a holistic concept which includes highlighting the role of fidelity to single partners,” he said.
Vardhan, who is in the US on an official tour, denied in a statement that he had any “moral problem” with condoms, as suggested by some media reports.
“Through misleading headlines, an impression is sought to be created that I have misgivings about the efficacy of condoms or that I have a moral problem with condoms.
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“For the past two decades, I have been stressing the need for safe sex using a combination of condoms and discipline which is in line with the Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom (ABC) line of UNAIDS that has yielded great success in Uganda and forms part of the anti-AIDS campaigns of several countries,” he said.
“As the health minister, I find it justified to include this simple message in the communication strategy of the government’s anti-AIDS programmes,” he added.
“Condoms promise safe sex, but the safest sex is through faithfulness to one’s partner. Prevention is always better than cure,” Vardhan said.