The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of New South Wales (AHMRC) has invested an enormous amount of money in billboard advertising on the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney.
On my return journey from Melbourne last week I counted 3 billboards carrying an advertisement for condoms as protection against STIs(1) and as a way to "enjoy your freedom".
This in spite of a wealth of studies which have found that condoms afford no protection against the most common STIs. A 2001 report from the U.S. National Institutes of Health stated that “there is no scientific evidence that condoms prevent the transmission of most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)”. This seems to have escaped the developers of the campaign.
Some of the propaganda on the AHMRC website includes downloadable and printable wallet-size how-to guides in the art of condom application. Interestingly, the website currently contains no information about the importance of a nutritious diet or the benefits of immunisation. Considering the Council is about ‘health and medical research’ one would assume their wallet-sized how-to guides might be more appropriately developed to promote, for example, healthy eating tips.
These billboards are a serious affront to children and families traveling on the Hume. For parents, the freedom to choose when and how they explain the word ‘condom’ to their 8 year olds has been taken away.
(1) Sexually transmitted infection – previously referred to as a sexually transmitted disease.
AHMRC website accessed 12-01-2009
© Eva Whiteley 2009