India is set to get its first free condom store to strengthen its battle against HIV infections in the country. The store is being set up by an international charity, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which said the initiative is one of its kind.
India, the second-most populous country in the world, has about 2.1 million people affected by the HIV.
Although the rate of HIV infection has fallen in recent times, activists say more needs to be done to control the numbers.
"The funding for condoms is bad, it's being cut around the world. We were getting desperate requests and it's then we realised India needs its own condom store. Condoms are the cheapest and the best way to prevent HIV infection so we were very upset about it [funding cuts]," Terri Ford, AHF's chief of global advocacy and policy, was quoted as saying by AFP.
The government already provides free condoms to high-risk groups such as sex workers, Males having Sex with Males (MSM) and transgenders. This is the first time free condoms will be made publicly available, DNA reports.
According to the charity, free home delivery will help people access condoms without worrying about social taboos.
Though the government-run health facilities distribute free condoms, they are often poorly stocked, complain activists. To make the situation worse, a crucial funding funnelled into the campaign to fight AIDS was sharply reduced in 2014, but was later partially restored.
"We feel very frustrated. We work with governments all over the world but there's nothing like Indian bureaucracy. Slow bureaucracy is actually killing people. So many people are dying because of lack of timely testing and treatment," added Ford.