The government of the Dominican Republic appears to have nearly doubled condom use in the nation after a year's blitz of AIDS information and distribution of condoms.
Although a number of AIDS education campaigns have been launched, the report released at the annual meeting of AAAS is the first to measure the effects of a massive public education campaign.
While the number of men using condoms in Santo Domingo nearly doubled, the actual increase was only 8 percentage points, from 10 percent of the men before the campaign to 18 percent afterward, according to Edward C. Green, an anthropologist with a Columbia, Md., consulting firm. Other caveats were expressed about the results, but the report is expected to encourage similar approaches to combatting acquired immune deficiency syndrome in other nations.
The campaign included requiring hotels and motels to put two condoms in every room and advertisements using a banana to demonstrate to people how to put on a condom.
The increase, found through a survey of 4,558 men, appeared after the public campaign, whose chief message was carried in television ads and about half a million posters, bumper stickers and other print information. The campaign was assumed to be the cause of the new condom use.
However, the campaign failed to persuade more than 80 percent of the men to use condoms, and even the men using them were doing so only occasionally, with girlfriends and prostitutes. They did not use them often with their wives.