France to fight AIDS with 20-cent condoms

20 cent condoms (courtesy AFP)PARIS (AFP) - The French government said it would make 10 million cut-priced condoms available in high schools, night clubs, cinemas and hospitals to try to combat the spread of HIV-AIDS.

Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said the campaign aimed to ensure safe-sex becomes "a reflex", with condoms to go on sale for 20 euro cents (25 US cents) in 20,000 outlets around the country from early next year.

The condoms will also be available in thousands of tobacconist shops, newsagents and pharmacies.

According to the French sanitary institute INVS, 6,700 new cases of HIV were reported in France in 2005, compared to 7,000 the previous year.

A quarter involved homosexuals, according to the INVS, which warned of a recent rise in high-risk behaviour among the gay population.

In more than half of new cases, the virus was transmitted among heterosexuals. Of these, women accounted for 57 percent of all cases, and 48 percent involved immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Two percent were due to needle-sharing among drug users, while for the rest the mode of transmission was not known.

By the end of last year, France had recorded 60,833 cases of full-blown AIDS since the outbreak of the disease. There are currently 150,000 people living with HIV in the country, of whom 29,000 have AIDS.

source - AFP