The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Safe sex is on the agenda for the first time this year, as the government prepares for the country's first ever National Condom Week 2007 next month (photo right).
The campaign is a national effort to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially HIV/AIDS, by encouraging safe sex.
The week-long even is set to kick off on December 1 and would coincide with the commemoration of international HIV/AIDS day.
A number of events will be organized, including the distribution of free condoms, a music concert, various artistic competitions and other kinds of campaigns. All events would aim to increase the public's awareness of the importance of safe sex and using condoms to avoid STDs.
"We (want to reduce) the prevalence of HIV/AIDS nationally," chairman of the National Family Planning Coordinating Board, Sugiri Syarief, said.
"And we need to do this by encouraging the use of condoms as an effective way to prevent the transmission of diseases (via unsafe sex)," he said.
"National Condom Week is expected (to help) change (existing) stigmas about condoms -- and to give (the public) an understanding that condoms are a safe contraceptive device."
Sugiri said the nationwide use of condoms as a contraception was still low compared to neighboring countries.
Recent data from the country's health ministry showed some 5,904 people infected with HIV and 10,384 people living with AIDS.
It is estimated between 176,000 and 247,000 more have been infected with the virus during 2006. (JP/Desy Nurhayati)