Bengkulu. Concerned about the spread of HIV and AIDS, lawmakers in Bengkulu are working on a directive to limit the sale of condoms and other contraceptives, arguing that the availability of such items leads to higher rates of pre- and extramarital sex.
Septi Yuslinah, a member of the provincial legislature, said that 600 people are currently known to live with HIV or AIDS in Bengkulu, and that this number is rising.
Extramarital sex and drug abuse are the main factors behind the spread of HIV, she said.
In order the halt the deadly virus, the Bengkulu legislative council (DPRD) is currently drafting a bill that would limit the sale of contraceptives to pharmacies and other stores licensed to sell medicines.
Septi explained that the measure was aimed at making it more difficult for people, especially youngsters, to acquire the means to avoid pregnancy during pre- or extramarital escapades. The hope is that without access to such means, more young people would remain sexually abstinent until they get married.
For the same reason, pharmacies will also be urged to be selective in selling contraceptives.
"This is done purely to curb the steady rise in HIV/AIDS sufferers in Bengkulu," Septi said. "We need to regulate the sale of contraceptives in society."
The head of the provincial health agency, Amin Kurnia, said he agreed with the plan.
"We highly appreciate the Bengkulu DPRD for drafting a bill to prevent HIV and AIDS," Amin said. "This proves that the council members are very concerned about HIV and AIDS."
Amin added that he hoped the bill would be quickly passed into law, so that his agency could start educating people in Bengkulu about why contraceptives should not be readily available at convenience stores and other such places.