India’s Health Minister Says ‘Promote Indian Culture, Not Condoms, To Prevent AIDS’


Narendra Modi at rally

The Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that he would like the government to focus more on promoting the ‘integrity of the sexual relationship between husband and wife’, which was part of Indian culture, to create awareness about AIDS and HIV rather than promote usage of condoms. In an interview to The New York Times, he said that promoting the use of condoms ‘sends the wrong message that you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you’re using a condom, it’s fine’ and that “The thrust of the AIDS campaign should not only be on the use of condoms.”

The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) in India has traditionally focused on promoting usage of condoms among high-risk groups. Its’ vision statement highlights, amongst other things, the need to have an AIDS control programme that is ‘firmly rooted in evidence-based planning’.  Worldwide evidence indicates, acknowledged by both the WHO and UNAIDS, that the male condom is the single most efficient available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV.

AIDS outreach in India has been extensively supported by the Government and UN bodies, and a report by the NACO claimed that India had recorded a 57 percent drop in the number of new HIV infections in the decade from 2000 to 2011. India still has the third largest number of HIV infected people in the world at 2.1 million.

V.K. Subburaj, the head of NACO, said that the promotion of condoms among high-risk groups was unlikely to change. “For the vulnerable groups, we cannot tell them about morals,” he told The New York Times. But he suggested that NACO might change its strategy for the general population, who would be told to “be faithful”.

While the NACO aims to promote responsible sexual behaviour, it remains to be seen how the new moral yardstick envisioned by Dr Vardhan shapes government response and policy decisions on AIDS awareness and control in India.

Dharmarajan M

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  • jasleen g

    wat culture is mr harshvardhan talking abt?? the one that created epic text such as kamasutra or the one that promote degradation of women??

    • Lalmani Sharma

      Well, that shows poor knowledge of urs…
      if u think Kamsutra is a book that increase some sexual problem… Kill urself…
      and if u think Indian Culture is all about degrading Women… Pls Kill urself twice…

      • ManiLal

        ^ Lalmani you have many many brains..

      • thethorninyourside

        Spell properly in English, or kill yourself…and if you think you’re Indian, kill yourself twice! 😀 Joker..

      • Akuma

        You don’t think Indian culture has degraded women?

        Look around you. How many women do you see in top positions in government, industry, etc, look at our sex ratio. If you still can’t see it – go fuck yourself.

        • Jomon

          Akuma and Lalmani Sharma please note one more thing.
          Have you read that RAPE cases in INDIA it may become our culture in future because here (INDIA) has no way to prevent RAPE.
          Akuma you told “How many women do you see in top positions in government, industry, etc, ” and think how many had victim in RAPE?.

      • srinath

        You are right. Just ignore those idiots. The only sutra they see is kama sutra!!There is whole vedanta sutra.. that they don’t want!! idiots!

      • aaravg

        Lol.. U really made me laugh out loud.. On ur comnent i laughed for hours…

    • Janaki

      Obviously you do not know that Kamasutra also insists on responsible sex. You mistook it for the cheap pornography you get in net. And Indian epic is the only that recognized women’s dignity when rest of the world was in barbarian state

    • Anish

      You must be talking about your own culture you dumbass. Go and read our history and get to know about our culture. And for people like you “Kamasutra” will always be a book which may make you aroused but that is not the reason why that book was written. And FYI – Women are given the top place in our society (not talking about idiots and idiots like you who dont get this fact straight and insult women). They are called “Janani”.. Every person who grew up in a well balanced family and was raised with their tradition and culture; knows how to respect women. Dont start blabbering anywhere without giving a 2nd thought to it.

      • Sid

        Would that be the same “respectful” culture that tells them their normal monthly biological process makes them “unclean” and unfit to eat with the “clean” men?

  • Rainbow Dash

    It infuriates me when people place culture before logic .
    AIDS in the LGBT community is a serious problem and one does not solve it by throwing culture at it .

    • Vivek Mani

      He is throwing resposible and safe sex. At it not culture, read again .

  • first stop rape culture, then think of other :\
    stop condom culture :\, yeah get more population
    stupid, indian politicians, son of a bastard :\ >:(

  • Well, not sure what exactly culture he’s talking about…where women get harassed in every now and then treat as sexual object ( now I don’t really give a fuck if you deny), girl child gets killed by parents..??? Even the girl gets raped and brutally killed, politicians (and few of us) claims her to be a slut for the clothing (what is Indian cultural clothings for women? Saari? Salwar? Borqah? The one covers the entire skins like Borqah? or the one ike Saari which flash the major skins? Or Salwar? (now you say there’s should be the length like this and that, adding a huge dopatta bla bla blah)) ! #Incredible India

    • aaravg

      Austin.. I agree in some term.. Sasri is culture n in most families salwar kurta is not allowed by married women..
      The question is which is more flashy..? Salwar kurta covers most of the body n saari shows a lot part.. Still v call it culture.. Let it be traditional dress bt not forced to wear.. I hope ppl change their mindset..

  • Roshni

    No AIDS and multiple relationships DO NOT have a connection.
    As long as you practice safe sex.
    Also, considering a lot of religions practice polygamy, this is slightly odd.
    Moreover, if you’re having sex with multiple partners, make sure your partners get tested frequently.

    ^All of THAT prevents AIDS.
    Not rubbish tradition. Whatever that vague term means.

    • thethorninyourside

      Would like to know how many of these ‘religions’ practice polygamy. And where on earth are you getting your logic from??? You talk as if people own harems..:/

    • Anish

      Roshni – Your last statement (whatever that term means) – makes it clear as in why our nation is going to Dirt.. People like you (Educated fools who can feel good, just because they can speak shitty english) would never understand the importance of our tradition and culture.. Few of the miscreants does not make a culture bad.. Like few of the terrorists does not make the entire Islamic community a terrorist.

  • I have 20 year experinces of field of HIV/AIDS and Reproductive health. Condom premotin program is nacecity of STI and HIV prevention for any body.

  • Raksha Ghulati

    Well that’s a little archaic in thinking; while I don’t condone illicit sexual behavior, I believe it is everyone’s right to choose the way they want to live. If that means many sexual partners, then so be it. Not promoting the use if condoms is simply a bad idea. We need to ensure that all our citizens have access to condoms and morning after pills to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies. In today’s modern world, I don’t think promoting a relationship between a man a woman is realistic as homosexuals have been around since the dawn of time. Those relationships are as natural and as “normal” as the “straight” kinds. What we really need to focus on is, promoting a healthy sex education so that people are aware of their options. This PM seems to be trying to take India into the last century. Get with the times dude!

    • Name

      Sure, Can I get your contact number? Looking for a sexual partner badly.. Lets make it like we are in 22nd Century.. Shall we??

  • Debartha chatterjee

    You people do not have a clear idea of the indian culture…so i would suggest you to have a look at it not from the view point of todays generation nor from todays media’s point of view…..
    And if you want to comment on kamasutra you better go and read the original text rather than watching porn!!!
    I am not a doctor but for me its perpectly the right way of looking at it!!

  • Lisa bee

    What about condoms to prevent so many many babies!!

  • Debranjan

    Well no amount of pious right wing culture can stop the primordial itch triggered off by raging hormones, especially in this day and age of unabashed media sexuality.

  • Azous D’Pilid

    I’m just curious – the original link points to a New York Times article. But can anybody point me to the actual interview transcript between the NYT and the Minister?

    What questions were asked, and what were answered?

  • drparasjain

    Sexuality and ethics have always been at loggerheads for the times immemorial Originally , religions linked sexuality with only progeny . Various Ashrams – 25 years each for education , homelife , celibacy and retirement allotted only the age of 26-50 for sex and children . Western Religions have different concepts altogether . Therefore there the battleground LGBT. Interpretation of sex as use of body otherwise lose it typically western . indians have always been permissive in all uses of body including sleep, food and sex . Dr Harshvardhan himself is a very prominent doctor . In all probability his intention might be to bring into focus the old debate – condoms and dignity of women and act of sex just there to titillate and divert the focus .


    Today the middle east mess is a direct result of not using condoms and thinking wrong things are right. …if muslims used condoms …and were not overpopulated like they are and they actually went to real schools and learnt and practiced logic instead of all their mad theories….the mayhem that is the middle east would not be happening…..condoms keep mass murders unborn.

  • Reader

    For those on a high about Indian culture –
    Culture is an abstract (and rather flimsy) term that changes its meaning with person, region, time and mood of the day. The person who tell his dear little sister the importance of honesty in morning, will step out of the house, drive without license and then bribe the policeman and later remark – “Bhenchod 100 mein hi bik gaya”. That is “present” Indian culture. And one should live and talk in present.

    For those worried about AIDS –
    When you are battling AIDS – a physical disease, you don’t expect people to learn morals. What really works is practical logic and tangible scientific methods – condoms, regular tests and a lot of awareness.

  • Shubham Gautam

    For all of those who have misconceptions about sex just follow ma way it will be easily understandable to you,more population is indulge in maturbation ,In compromise of HIV ,abortion,Dangerous effects of pills ,promotion of Condom is like saving you from all of above these .ya then I was every person have right to sex ,prostitutes and porn saving us from sex crimes and everyone love them to,even they love there job required not under force our family pressures ,its there own decisions ..Let people think about sex wisely.