'Condom use is sexy': Mexico City campaigners dish out rubbers ahead of Valentine's Day

"Condom use is sexy," said Aids Healthcare Foundation’s Miriam Ruiz on this International Condom Day in Mexico City, where residents are encouraged to play it safe Valentine's Day Friday with 100,000 condoms distributed across the city.
A police officer receiving a condom during an event organised by the Aids Healthcare Foundation for the International Condom Day.
A police officer receiving a condom during an event organised by the Aids Healthcare Foundation for the International Condom Day.PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - Residents in Mexico's sprawling capital were encouraged to play it safe on Valentine's Day, as 100,000 condoms were distributed across the city's metro stations on Thursday (Feb 13) in the run up to the annual love fest.

Dozens of volunteers, some dressed as garish-coloured condoms, dished out packets of the rubber protection across 24 metro stations as part of a campaign to prevent venereal diseases, rising HIV infections across Mexico and unwanted pregnancies.

Celebrating "International Condom Day" on Thursday, sexual safety campaigners from Aids Health Foundation (AHF) organisation launched their campaign using the "Condom use is sexy" tagline.

"Unfortunately, every year, because of shame or misinformation, people are infected with various diseases," said Ms Miriam Ruiz, head of the Aids Rapid Testing Area at AHF.

Only 15 per cent of Mexican couples use condoms, according to AHF, and the organisation wants to break the "taboo" around the use of condoms.

The campaign resonated with many residents in Mexico City, which is home to nearly nine million people, with over 21 million in its greater metropolitan area.

"I use condoms, but the truth is that there is still a lot of machismo in Mexico and men do not want to use a condom," said 23-year-old student Manuela Zepeda.

"I tell men: If you want (sex), put it on," she added, while showing the female condom that she had just been given.

Daily HIV infections increased to 44 from 33 per day between 2017 and 2018, according to Mexico's National Centre for the Prevention and Control of HIV and Aids (Censida).

Ms Lourdes Zamuro, a 63-year-old woman, took two strips.

"These condoms are for my grandchildren," she said in front of her smiling husband Adrian Carrera, 65.

"Things were different before. We can't stop them having sex. Better to inform them and help them."