Poster boy of crusade against AIDS

Patna: His is a business economics, retail world cannot think about. Buy one, get two free. With this unique offer Shyam Das has been attracting customers at his kiosk located in a red light area in Purnia district of Bihar.

A poster boy of crusade against AIDS, Shyam runs a betel shop in the red light area of the town. He offers a pair of condoms free with betel to his customers.

By Lata CR, for iGovernment.

The unique offer has made even the conservative villagers to queue up before the betel shop to get free condoms in addition to instructions about how to use them.

Shyam’s crusade against this deadly disease began last year after his bosom friend Bhulai Das succumbed to the disease.

“I could not sleep the whole night, the day my friend died of AIDS last year. I then decided to launch an aggressive campaign against the disease at my own level,” Das said.

He on an average earns Rs 200 a day from the customers, mostly visitors to the sex workers in the red-light area of the city. From the earnings, Das spends around Rs 50 per day on distributing condoms free to his customers.

“I know I can’t save the AIDS victims but, at least, I can prevent the masses falling victim to this deadly disease by launching a mass awareness drive among them and handing them free condoms,” he said.

Das further said that he purchase condoms from his own pocket and distribute them among the villagers and customers whenever the state authorities delay its delivery.

He also compels the brothel visitors to carry condoms with him while briefly telling them the dangers of AIDS.

A local sex worker Shakuntala Devi said, “Because of active campaign launched by the betel shop owner, many of our customers have got alert about AIDS.”

A Bihar State AIDS Control Society report said a total of 16,054 persons, including 6,035 women and 434 children, have been tested HIV positive till date, and in the last eight months, 1, 468 cases have been detected in the state, registering an increase of about 34 per cent from those reported last year.

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