Agnes Winarti, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 11/05/2008 10:35 AM
National Condom Week, set to kick off in early December, will target youths at universities, shopping centers and popular hangouts, including caf*s, the campaign's organizer announced Monday.
In the run-up to the event, the National AIDS Commission, in cooperation with other organizations, has opened competitions for journalists to promote condom use and for university students to design proposals for condom-use campaigns.
The journalists' competition will accept submissions from Nov. 3 to Dec. 3, while the design competition, called the University Challenge, will be open from Nov. 1 to 28.
The top three designers in the University Challenge will be awarded money to carry out their campaign plans at their respective campuses from Dec. 1 to 7.
Commission secretary Nafsiah Mboi emphasized the importance of engaging the younger generation in the second National Condom Week to be held in the country.
"Over 50 percent of our youths below the age of 30 are already infected with sexually transmitted diseases," she said.
Some 2.3 million abortions were reported nationwide last year, with no figure available for illegal or non-medical abortions, Health Ministry data shows. National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN) secretary Sudibyo Alimoeso said about a million of the officially recorded abortions were done by teens.
Nafsiah called on all those under the age of 40 to abstain from free sex and drugs, to be loyal to one partner, and if they still chose to have sex, to take precautions by using a condom.
Campaigns during National Condom Week will be held at campuses, malls, office buildings and hangouts frequented by young people.
One of the highlights of the week will be a music event at Ancol's Segara Beach in North Jakarta, featuring popular bands. Called "MTV Staying Alive", the Dec. 6 concert will draw an expected crowd of 150,000.
The commission will also organize a condom campaign at the Redboxx Caf* in Surabaya on Nov. 26 and the Hard Rock Caf* in Jakarta and Bali on Dec. 5.
The awareness week will also present a conference on condom use in Jakarta on Dec. 2. The commission is aiming to draw a young audience to the conference.
The week will end with Award Night on Dec. 9. On the evening, the commission will recognize citizens who have made significant contributions to the safe-sex campaign.
As of June this year, 6,277 people were reported as having HIV nationwide, while 12,686 were reported as having AIDS.
Nafsiah said 49.1 percent of the infections were caused by injection drug use and 46.2 percent by sexual intercourse -- 42.1 percent of it heterosexual and the remaining 4.1 percent homosexual.
Although one of the week's slogans highlights "Celebrating Condom Use", the committee said National Condom Week would still promote abstinence from premarital sex as the best way of avoiding unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Condom use is considered the third best method of this, behind abstinence and monogamy.