Michael Cashman MEP: “If we really wish to take public health seriously we should do everything we can to promote the normalisation of condom use.”
BRUSSELS, November 29, 2007 — Restrictions on condom advertising should be relaxed in order to combat rising levels of sexually transmitted disease, according to a senior Euro MP.
Labour’s Michael Cashman made the call for pre-watershed condom advertising as part of a campaign to mark World Aids day on Saturday.
The lifting of TV advertising restrictions of condoms across the EU has the support from the 219-strong Socialist Group in the European Parliament.
The current guidelines in the UK restrict condom adverts before 9.00pm on all channels except Channel 4, which can show adverts after 7.00pm. The organisations which oversee the guidelines are the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee for Advertising Practices.
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s, fears about HIV led to young people exercising greater care and using condoms,” Mr. Cashman said this morning.
“But, unfortunately, as a nation we have appeared to have become complacent.”
“Amazingly there are people who still think that HIV is a disease that only affects groups such as homosexuals and drug users. Those who think this way are not just being ignorant; they are being reckless.
“HIV does not discriminate. Having unprotected sex is like playing Russian roulette but every chamber of the gun is loaded.”
“It is young people who are most at risk and they are the very people who need to be informed about using condoms. They need an environment where they can see, talk about and use condoms,” he added.
There has also been a worrying rise in reported cases of other sexual transmitted diseases. In 1997 there were just 301 reported cases of syphilis. That figure rose to an astonishing 3,702 last year. The number of reported cases last year for Chlamiydia was 113,000.
Mr. Cashman believes that allowing advertising before the watershed will help to remove some of the taboo that is still associated with condoms. The Family Planning Association (FPA) has also called for restrictions to be lifted and has described the current rules as having a “Victorian attitude”.
A review of condom advertising has also been recommended by the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV.
“If we really wish to take public health seriously we should do everything we can to promote the normalisation of condom use,” Mr. Cashaman continued.
“That is why I am using the occasion of World AIDS Day to call on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee for Advertising Practices (CAP) to review the guidelines on condom advertising.”
Mr. Cashman, who was a founding director of Stonewal, is the current president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights
■ In an initiative to mark World AIDS Day, Socialist Euro MPs are calling for a cut in VAT on condoms and are urging condom manufacturers to reduce prices to levels closer to production costs. The United Kingdom government has already made the VAT reduction.