- Rio de Janeiro state officials are giving away 3 million free condoms
- Health minister: this year's public health campaign targets young gay men
- "A new generation...(is) less sensitive to the risks of HIV infection," he says
- Officials plan to hand out bags to carry condoms and paper fans with catchy slogans
Revelers in Brazil's most famous city will enjoy more than just sun, live music and dancing when Carinval festivities start this week. Rio de Janeiro state officials are also giving away 3 million free condoms.
The new government initiative aims to stop the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases during the five-day event, the state health department said.
This year's campaign targets gay men between the ages of 19 and 24, Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said, according to state-run Agencia Brasil.
"There is a new generation that has not had the experience of seeing idols who fought at the beginning of the AIDS (epidemic) and who died, and therefore (they) are less sensitive to the risks of HIV infection," Padilha said, referring to two Brazilian rock stars who died of AIDS in the 1990s.
In addition to condoms, health officials also plan to hand out 330,000 paper fans with catchy slogans against STDs, 55,000 small bags party-goers can use to carry condoms and more than 160,000 informational pamphlets to crowds at samba dance performances and block parties during the legendary annual celebration.
Other major cities in the country will have similar programs, according to Agencia Brasil. Sao Paulo, Salvador and Florianopolis have entered into partnerships with block parties and artists.
Tents also will be set up throughout the cities to perform rapid testing for HIV and hepatitis.
Despite widespread awareness of condoms, 40% of young people in Brazil do not use condoms in all sexual relations, according to the health department.