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"Paan" Flavoured Condoms

vikas.kumar's picture



India’s first customized condom for sex workers and World’s only condom available in “Paan” flavour.

The good old paan with its addictive flavour is now joining India’s fight in Birth Control. On 16th July, 2007, In Mumbai, Family Health International (FHI) in collaboration with Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL) launched a “Paan” or Betel flavoured condom called, “AASTHA” as a part of Avahan India AIDS Initiative of the BILL & MELINDA GATES Foundation.

Aastha is a specially designed condom, developed on the basis of feedback from Sex Workers (SWs). A test of chocolate, strawberry, banana and paan was carried out and there was widespread preference for the paan flavour (understandably so as the demand for oral sex on Commercial Sex Workers is rising and 90% of them consume paan). The success of this condom will also lie in its packaging. It is reddish-pink in colour and the packaging looks like a mouth freshener sachet…easy to buy and carry.

With “Aastha” ready to be flood the market soon, the makers surely hope that the new Pan-Indian flavour will give them the sweet smell of success.

Here are some facts that I found really interesting :

Name of the condom is same as that of the project: selected by sex workers.

Logo made from prize winning design through a painting competition among sex workers.

Tailored design based on feedback from sex workers.

Extensive use across extreme field conditions feeding into continuous quality improvement.

More than 13 million condoms distributed till date.

This incident occurred when I was returning in the local train. A gentleman (on seeing the “Aastha” brochure/picture in my hand) questioned me about this new product. I told him about the launch of a “Paan” flavoured condom. He seemed curious, “Why add flavours to condoms?” I hesitated, “Well, some people like indulging in oral sex.” He persisted, “Why have oral sex?”

Also, he didn’t much like the name “Aastha”. He suggested, “Aastha sounds too religious. These condoms won’t sell. The least they could have done was change the spelling. They should have called it “ASS-THA”!!!

The train pulled up at Bandra. The gentleman handed me his visiting card and got off. He is a professor of Marketing attached to the University of Wales!

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Ganesh.Dutta's picture
in the way of fighting with population explosion and will be very useful! nice way to present a sensitive issue in humorous flavour!!
vikas.kumar's picture
thanks! i found the launch of "Aastha" a very interesting concept and thought of covering it. Since Paan is so popular in India, its a nice way to reach out to our huge population...I'm all for any measures taken for Birth and HIV control.
shantihhh's picture
At first I chuckled thinking of the people who chew betel nuts and the discolouration, then I kept reading and realized this wasn't a joke. With the staggering rate of Aids in India this is a terrific new item. Sex workers find a new high in paan flavour Deepa Suryanarayan Tuesday, July 17, 2007 10:19 IST Paan is the new flavour when it comes to business for commercial sex workers (CSW). Aastha, the paan-flavoured condom officially launched on Monday by Family Health International (FHI) in collaboration with Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL), is the country’s first customised condom for CSWs. FHI officials say this might help promote the use of condoms among CSWs. The flavour was chosen after a four-month survey on 53,000 male, female and transgender sex workers from Mumbai and Thane. The survey showed a preference for the paan-flavoured condom. report continued below Latest News on •10 killed, 35 injured in explosion in Pak more » •Aussie Govt says Haneef would be deported more » •MEA summons Aus envoy over Haneef issue more » more » “What makes it different from other condoms in the market is the fact that it is available in sachets like oil, soaps and shampoos. They are also better lubricated than other condoms. But what really turned the charts in favour of Aastha, was its paan flavour,” said Dr Sanjeev Singh Gaikwad, FHI director, Maharashtra program. After examining various flavours such as strawberry, banana, chocolate and vanilla, paan was selected, he said. “In fact, so phenomenal was the response that we might soon launch it in the market,” said M Ayyappan, chairman and managing director of Hindustan Latex Limited. “Most CSWs chew paan or tobacco, which makes the flavour easy for us to accept,” said Aarti Gowda, a 37-year-old transgender CSW. Gowda is involved with the Aastha Project, aimed at reducing the incidence of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections among sex workers and their partners through use of condoms. More than 10 million Aastha condoms have been distributed across Mumbai and Thane since February 2007. “There is a rise in condom use. At least 75 per cent of paying clients use it,” said Dr Gaikwad.
kapil.trehan's picture
Interesting post! whatever it takes to control HIV in our country...
vikas.kumar's picture
yes dude...whatever it takes. there could be no flavour more "pan-indian" than "paan".
tophergrace08's picture
this is awesome! have u tried it already? just curious...what does paan taste like actually? sweet? minty?
vikas.kumar's picture
surprisingly, i haven't! thanks for reminding me...may be i will, one of these days...i've obviously had paan though. it's sweet, minty and a lot more. you must watch Muchhad Paan Wala - The Moustached Betel Leaf Seller
"Paan" Flavoured Condoms