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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 17:05 GMT
Condom uproar in India assembly
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu
Mr Naidu's Aids plan has been criticised by the BJP

A giant condom is causing uproar in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

The eight-foot high contraceptive was put on display in the lobby of the state assembly as part of a campaign to raise public awareness.

Indian scientist in lab at Cipla Research and Development Facility
India has been working to prevent and control HIV
Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu wants to mobilise opinion against HIV-Aids.

But some members of the assembly thought the initiative vulgar - despite the state's position as one of the worst-hit by Aids in India.

Protests against the condom were led by right-wing BJP leader Indrasen Reddy.

He said he and his party were all for a free and frank discussion about Aids and its causes - but things had gone too far with the giant condom.

Putting such things on display in the state assembly premises, he said, was against the dignity of the house.

Dire threat

But Mr Naidu and other ministers argued they were trying to send the right message to the people.

An aids patient in India
Aids treatment in India is often inadequate
The chief minister said the condom was not on display for fun - HIV-Aids was a very serious issue for the state and a question of life and death for many people.

He pointed out that the assembly was a place to discuss policies and programmes.

And he warned that Aids was spreading so rapidly it threatened the very future of the assembly, as there would be no voters left if the spread of the HIV virus were not stopped.

Mr Naidu recently issued instructions that the venues of all public meetings should be decorated with condoms to create awareness among the people about Aids.

Andhra Pradesh is the second worst affected among all the Indian states, with the number of HIV positive cases estimated at about 400,000 out of a population of over 75 million.


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