HIV :: Bhutan offers free condoms to check growing AIDS cases

Faced with a sudden rise in the number of HIV positive people, Bhutan is distributing a variety of condoms with different flavours among its men — all for free.

After 118 men were found to carry the AIDS virus, the country’s public health department is out on a massive campaign to educate people on HIV and the use of condoms.

Bhutanese men can now step on to shops, restaurants, bars and discotheques and collect the free condoms.

“Bhutanese men and teenagers must use the free condoms to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases which are on the rise,” said Sonam Phuntsho, the department’s joint director (Information and Communication Bureau).

“Ask for condoms. You should not let embarrassment become a threat to your life,” said Phuntsho.

The department had organised a sensitising programme here last week.

According to health officials, majority of the HIV positive people contacted the virus through unprotected sex.

The health ministry spends about six million ngultrums on condoms but there are concerns that this has not been appreciated by the public and most of the condoms have been misused, said program officer Namgay Tshering.

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