Thailand: Free condom with fill-up
Distribution campaign targets young men
December 1, 1996
Web posted at: 9:25 a.m. EST (1425 GMT)
From Correspondent Tom Mintier
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- The gas station seems an unlikely place to
battle against the spread of AIDS. But to the government of
Thailand, it makes perfect sense.
Getting a tank of gasoline is something most people do twice
a week. Those with motorcycles get gas once a day. So health
officials in Thailand decided gas stations were a good place
to get the word out about condom usage.
This unusual condom giveaway is being offered for one month
at more than 400 PTTs -- government-owned service stations.
Each customer will receive a condom after their purchase.
Most gas stations already provide premiums for a gas fill-up
-- everything from a can of soda to light bulbs. The safe sex
promotion is targeted toward young men.
"I sometimes go to a brothel," says one motorcycle driver
whose friend died of AIDS last month. "I use a condom every
time; I have a wife at home."
"They have to fill their gas tanks there very frequently, so
it's very appropriate and a good chance for us to make them
have access to condoms and information that they really
need," said Dr. Damrong Boonyoen of the Ministry of Public
The Ministry of Health is providing 3 million condoms for the
program. Each one is packed inside a brochure that explains
the dangers of HIV. For the past week, boxes of the condoms
have been sent to stations all across the country.
Each gas station is provided with a banner and some posters
by the Health Ministry,
But this is more than just an informational campaign. Getting
condoms distributed is the real mission.
"It's a good idea," said Anukul Sithisarnwatanachai, one of
the gas station owners. "It will help reduce the number of
The government has promoted condom usage for more than 30
years, first as a method of birth control, then to prevent
HIV. Thailand's first HIV case was reported in 1981. This
year, more than 800,000 people are infected.
The condom giveaway program may be a good example of target
marketing. In the past, most were handed out at government-
run health clinics or brothels. This time they may be
reaching a segment of the population they've never been able
to get to.
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