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LOS ANGELES (February 12, 2013) – In recognition of International Condom Day (ICD) – an informal annual celebration of safer sex held on February 13 in conjunction with Valentine’s Day – AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, is hosting or supporting condom distribution and awareness-raising activities on every continent, spreading safer sex messages in 25 countries around the world. The majority of the activities will feature “Condom Flash Mobs,” which are organized groups of people—dozens in some locations to several thousand in others—distributing mostly AHF’s LOVE-branded condoms in high-traffic areas of each city.
In addition to events in the majority of the 28 countries where AHF currently provides testing, treatment, and advocacy on four continents, the nonprofit is also supporting Condom Day events being held by local non-government organizations (NGOs) in Greece and Portugal, as well as providing condoms for a demonstration hosted by the local activism group Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS (YEAH) in Melbourne, Australia. A complete list of ICD activities can be found at: http://www.aidshealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/List-of-ICD-Condom-Flash-Mob-Events.pdf
“Last year on International Condom Day, we took part in activities in 30 cities scattered throughout 15 countries worldwide,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “The fact that we have more than doubled the numbers of cities taking part in this normalization, encouragement, and education surrounding condom use shows how much these countries value safer sex as a preventive measure in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
AHF will be involved in condom distribution and testing activities in 15 cities throughout nine African countries through the Foundation’s local country bureaus in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zambia. Each country aims to distribute tens of thousands of condoms on International Condom Day, and many countries have stretched the celebration out to five days or more to maximize the impact of awareness and access to condoms. Additionally, most of the distribution activities are coupled with testing opportunities, leading to such inspiration goals as the Rwandese ICD targets of distributing 300,000 condoms and testing 2,400 people for HIV during the five days of events in the Kigali marketplaces of Kimisagara, Nyamirambo, and Gakingiro. In South Africa, the Foundation will make a strong impact on the youth demographic through the activities planned at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the Durban University of Technology, and the Mangosuthu University of Technology.
Though China and Vietnam – two countries where AHF has been working for years – are celebrating ICD later in the year due to the observance of the Chinese New Year this week, the AHF partner countries of India, Cambodia, and Nepal are all participating in condom distribution and awareness-raising activities on February 13. In fact, AHF Cambodia’s activities in Phnom Penh will carry over to February 14, with over 170 volunteers distributing nearly 80,000 condoms at demonstrations at the Diamond Island Hall, City Mall, Shahan Shopping Center, Chamcar Spring Resort, SEATV Station, Kouch Kanong/Canadian Park, and Sokimex Park. India will mark the event in three cities throughout the country, and AHF’s Nepal team will host an awareness and distribution campaign in the Himalayan city of Kathmandu.
ICD activities will be held in seven European countries, several of which in Eastern Europe – including Ukraine, Kyrgystan, and Lithuania – have been operating AHF-supported healthcare centers for years; one of which – the Netherlands – is home to the only Out of the Closet Thrift Store outside of the United States, in Amsterdam; and two of which mark new partnerships between AHF and local NGOs in Greece and Portugal. The Foundation is partnering with Positive Voice to support ICD events in Thessaloniki and Athens, and with GAT Portugal – a local treatment advocacy group there – to support an event in Lisbon.
MEXICO & CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA
Eleven cities in Mexico will be holding condom distribution activities on February 13 to mark ICD, providing mass access to safer sex education and materials in such states as Jalisco, San Luis Potos, Tampaulipas, Tabasco and Veracruz, as well as in the country’s capital of Mexico City. In Central and South America, three other Latin American countries will be celebrating International Condom Day with the help of AHF: Guatemala, a long-standing AHF partner country; Paraguay, where AHF is working with local organizations and providers to strengthen partnerships through events like ICD; and Argentina, where AHF again partners with local organizations to increase access to treatment, testing, condoms, and education. AHF’s first event in Argentina, a Guinness World Record-setting testing event in Rosario held last World AIDS Day (December 1), saw more than 3,700 people tested for HIV in one city in an eight-hour time span.
Under the guidance of Condom Nation, the innovative nationwide condom distribution initiative spearheaded by AHF, the United States will be celebrating International Condom Day in ten states and the District of Columbia. A total of 22 cities will be organizing condom distributing “Flash Mobs” who will be passing out condoms in streets, malls, universities, transit and health centers from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, and from Columbus to Dallas. Florida will be hosting activities in six cities throughout the Panhandle State, and California’s major hubs of San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles will all be witness to Flash Mob activities, including a march through Hollywood from AHF’s Public Health Department headquarters to the Foundation’s Out of the Closet Thrift Store on Sunset Blvd., where radio station POWER 106 will host a small celebration to mark the holiday.
For a complete list of participating cities, locations, and contacts, please visit http://www.aidshealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/List-of-ICD-Condom-Flash-Mob-Events.pdf.