BEIJING (AP) - China has debuted its first television
advertisement ever for condoms in an effort to stop the spread
of sexually transmitted diseases and the AIDS virus, the
state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.
The ad began airing Sunday on China Central Television's
Channel 1, which has a nationwide audience of hundreds of
millions, Xinhua reported. The ad is intended to show that
condoms are a safe, convenient and effective way to block the
AIDS virus and sexually transmitted diseases.
China has been trying to curb the growth of the world's largest
population since the late 1970s, but public discussion of sex
and contraceptives has been rare, reflecting traditional social
Local police in some parts of China have forbidden efforts to
make condoms available at hotels and in stores, arguing it
would only encourage prostitution, Xinhua said. But the
government and health officials in particular have in recent
years strongly backed promoting condom use to fight AIDS.
China has an estimated 400,000 people infected with HIV, the
virus that causes AIDS, most of them intravenous drug users.
Health experts fear AIDS could spread quickly, given that China
reported 630,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases in 1998
and the true figure is believed to be ten times higher.
Condoms have been available in drug stores and other shops
since the late 1980s in Beijing and other cities. But
nationally contraceptives mainly are dispensed by the State
Family Planning Commission free of charge to married couples.