UNODC supports distribution of 500.000 condoms during Carnival by São Paulo's Health Secretariat
10 February 2013 - With Carnival officially kicking off on Friday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supported the STD/AIDS Program of São Paulo's Health Secretariat to take prevention activities of the campaign "Condoms in Parties" to the samba school parade at the Anhembi Sambadrome. On 8 and 9 February alone, about 200.000 condoms were distributed during the Special Group parade. It is expected that a total of over 500.000 condoms will be distributed by the campaign, which began in January and runs until 15 February, with the aim of educating revelers about the risks of HIV infection and reminding them of the importance of using condoms.
Marcia de Lima, coordinator of the STD/AIDS Program, explained that at the Sambadrome it is possible to access people who exaggerate during Carnival celebrations and end up not using condoms after abusing alcohol and drugs: "This is a campaign to call attention to the need of using condoms and to information about tests and treatment services. UNODC's support is crucial because of the public's vulnerability during Carnival, which is a festival marked by a strong sensual appeal as well as the excessive use of alcohol and drugs, which makes people more vulnerable".
In 2010, 2.160 new cases of AIDS were reported in São Paulo, a drop of 25% in comparison to 2005. Among men, the proportion of new AIDS cases among heterosexuals and homosexuals was balanced, with each exposure category at about 35%. Among women, 85% of new cases are among heterosexuals and 3,6% among injecting drug users.
"Condoms in Parties"
The distribution of condoms is done by a team of around 200 Secretariat technicians and prevention agents, who represent different target audiences of the campaign, such as young people and transvestites, sometimes already living with HIV. "These agents are trained by the Secretariat and receive guidance from the technicians to carry out prevention activities within their communities," said Lima.
The campaign was also present at the main Carnival parade with Afoxé group Omo Dadá, which together with leaders of various traditional African-Brazilian religions opened the parade on Saturday as part of the Prevention Line, carrying banners with messages of prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and AIDS. On Friday, condoms were also distributed at São Paulo's main bus terminals, for those who chose to travel during the holiday. Moreover, the campaign was also present at samba school rehearsals, dances and street parties over the Carnival period in São Paulo.
On Carnival Tuesday, 12 February, more prevention activities will be held at the Academic Block of Lower Augusta starting at 2pm, while on Ash Wednesday, 13 February, the campaign will be at Banda Redonda in the Consolação region from 7:30pm. For more information visit the website of São Paulo's STD/AIDS Program.