A giant pink condom has been erected in Sydney’s Hyde Park as part of a campaign to promote HIV awareness.
The 60 ft tall obelisk has been sheathed in the pink condom-shaped cover as is part of the Aids Council of New South Wales (Acon) “I’m ON” campaign to encourage safe sex among gay men.
The 157-year-old heritage-listed obelisk will be covered for a week and packets of condoms have been strewn around the structure, bearing the message: “Test more + treat early + stay safe = ending HIV”.
Some have criticised the decision to erect the giant condom in a park where children are playing, but the stunt has yet to experience the kind of backlash recorded over the giant inflatable “sex toy” sculpture in Paris, which was meant to depict a Christmas tree.
Acon is a health promotion organisation that focuses on HIV and Aids, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health, and its chief executive Nicholas Parkhill has said the visible icon in a high-traffic area was deliberately chosen to “turn lots of heads and raise a few eyebrows”.
Mr Parkhill said the need for gay men to “stay safe” by using condoms it at the core of the organisation’s strategy for eliminating HIV transmission by the end of the decade.
“We won’t be able to achieve this goal unless fay men use condoms when they’re having high-risk sex with causal partners, particularly in situations where are partner’s HIV status isn’t known – it’s that simple.”
Mr Parkhill said that while 44 per cent of gay men in the area report always wearing a condom when having sex with casual partners, research from the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Social Research in Health shows the number of gay men not always using a condom during casual encounters has increased by around 20 per cent in the last 15 years.