• SMS Contraceptives could be a game changer for Indian sexual health. (AFP)Source: AFP
India’s growing STI rates coupled with traditional views surrounding sex and intimacy as taboo have paved the way for a new innovative start up.
Shami Sivasubramanian

23 Sep 2016 - 2:17 PM  UPDATED 23 Sep 2016 - 2:17 PM

In response to India’s growing hook-up culture and high HIV/AIDS rates, a Delhi-based start-up is offering a new innovative product for those who want to get their freak on responsibly but are reticent to purchase contraception in public.

SMS Contraceptive promises to discreetly home deliver condoms, lubricants, and the morning after pill within 30 minutes. The service is provided 24-hours a day, seven days a week. 

Most importantly, it gives people, especially young people, a feasible solution to being sexually responsible while living in a society that still views promiscuity as depraved. 

A 2014 report by the United Nations HIV/AIDS program, UNAIDS, listed India as the country with the third-highest number of HIV-infected people in the world.  Along with China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. India makes up 90 per cent of people living with HIV in the Asia-Pacific.

“Many don’t want to have that awkward conversation with a chemist,” Sirhaan Seth, the 18-year-old founder of SMS Contraceptive tells Mashable India. “We are currently seeing more queries from youngsters aged between 18 to 25.”

These products can, therefore, be purchased via text, Whatsapp, or Snapchat, to avoid awkward encounters.

The taboo of discussing reproductive health goes beyond condoms and pregnancy tests. Many Indian pharmacies still conceal female hygiene products in thick black plastic bags when serving customers.

Indian comedian, Aditi Mittal, says more about it in her set below:

When compared to the average cup of coffee in Delhi, which is Rs. 130 (AUD $2.55), SMS Contraceptive products appear surprisingly affordable.

A box of three condoms or a morning after pill costs Rs. 150 (about AUD $3), lubricant costs Rs. 500 (AUD $9.80), and a pregnancy test costs only Rs. 100 (just under AUD $2).

However, by comparison to local pharmacy prices, their products, particularly their condoms, are more expensive.

Indian condom brands like Moods or Kamasutra which typically cost Rs. 10 for a 3-piece pack. Some generic brands even offer condoms at Rs. 1 per item.  Durex is slightly more expensive, charging around Rs 10 per condom.

While SMS Contraceptive has not specified which brand of condoms they distribute, SBS has reached out for comment. 

So far the service is only available for those living in Gurgaon, an affluent business suburb on the outskirts of Delhi, but Seth says the business has hopes of expanding.  

He hopes SMS Contraceptive helps break down taboos surrounding sex while offering legitimate solutions to sexually active people in a present Indian society of judgment.

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