NEW DELHI, India – A cell phone ring tone that sings "Condom, condom!" has been launched to promote safe sex in India, where condoms carry a strong social stigma and HIV and AIDS are growing problems, health experts said Tuesday.
The a cappella ring tone features a professional singer chanting the word condom more than 50 times, a playful approach that public health activists hope will spark discussion and make condoms more socially acceptable.
"We've made a conscious effort to move the concept of the condom away from negative association, like HIV and sex work," said Yvonne MacPherson, country director of BBC World Service Trust India. "Condoms are actually health products and if you have a condom and you use it, you are seen to be smart and responsible."
Nearly 2.5 million people in India are infected with HIV and the disease is still largely taboo.
The BBC group, which is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hopes the condom ring tone can make people in India more comfortable with safe sex issues.
More than 270 million people use mobile phones in India and ring tones, especially those featuring hit Bollywood songs, are extremely popular.
"A ring tone is a very public thing," she said. "It's a way to show you are a condom user and you don't have any issues with it."
On the Internet: Condomcondom.org.
The ring tone was launched Aug. 8 and has been downloaded 60,000 times, MacPherson said.