Thursday, July 19, 2007

packet racket

What do you call a condom in Pakistan? Sometimes as a packet. The advertisements refer to it in a very roundabout manner, involving visuals of a man hugging his wife, a woman and the voiceover mentioning the word sathi (the word for companion in Urdu, which is also the brand name for the condom) according to Khawar Ghumman of the English-language Islamabad daily newspaper Dawn.
A picture such as this would never ever be used in articles or in advertisements. In his reporting, he said, a condom would not be mentioned by name but would be lumped in under the catch-all phrase "contraceptives." In Pakistan, the world's sixth-most-populous nation, UNAIDS says that the percentage of the population infected with the sexually-transmitted virus is only 0.1% - but it's classified as high-risk because of increasing numbers of injecting drug users and lonely truck drivers, who are known throughout the world for spreading the virus along the transportation routes.
This emerged in a discussion about how to report on HIV/AIDS today - and how to avoid journalists turning into loudspeakers for AIDS dissidents with not a shred of evidence to their claims.

Speakers today included Ruth Pollard, a reporter with the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, and Dr Mark Wainberg of McGill University in Canada, who has survived (bloody but unbowed) from clashes with a series of AIDS-denying, AIDS-minimising, beetroot, olive oil, lemon juice and potato-advocating South African health ministers (otherwise known as the salad option on the menu of powerful anti-retroviral drugs available).

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