Indian launches betel condoms

NEW DELHI, July 17, 2007 (AFP) – A condom flavoured with the popular mixture of betel nut and tobacco known as paan is to go on sale in India, newspapers said Tuesday. State-owned company Hindustan Latex has already tested the pungent and bitter mixture on their main market, sex workers, who preferred it to other flavours such as banana and chocolate, the Hindustan Times reported

“The community loved it as most of the sex workers chew paan,” Sanjeev Gaikwad, a director at advocacy group Family Health International who helped launch the new condom as part of HIV-AIDS prevention efforts, told the newspaper.

Varieties of betel nut, tobacco and often sweet and bitter pastes are mixed in a concotion called paan sold at street-side stalls across South Asia.

Aficionados chew the mixture wrapped in a leaf and then spit the red saliva onto the sidewalks or buildings that are adorned with the tell-tale stains.

The condoms will be sold to the public later this year, but sex workers will be given supplies immediately, the newspaper said.

India said earlier this month that the number of its people living with HIV-AIDS stands at two million to 3.1 million, s