UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- A new global campaign to stop the spread of AIDS uses three animated characters dressed as condoms who deliver a serious message in humorous public service spots in 41 languages: If you're going to have sex, use a condom. The short spots are being offered free to broadcasters, community groups and universities and have the potential of reaching 80 percent of the world's population, Canadian producer-director Firdaus Kharas said Tuesday.
"We're using humor to stop the spread of AIDS," he told a news conference launching the public service announcements, which are targeted at people aged 15 to 24 in countries threatened by the epidemic including India, China, and Russia.
"The Three Amigos" -- as the cartoon condoms named Shaft, Stretch and Dick are called -- are pictured in a variety of settings from a spaceship to a soccer field to a casino. Twenty spots are available in each of the 41 languages varying from 20 to 60 seconds in length. Some spots are blatantly sexual, others more restrained.
The punch line in the spaceship spot says: "No condom, No blastoff. Stop the spread of AIDS." The soccer spot says: "You just can't score without a condom." And the spot focusing on a roulette wheel in a casino says: "Not all gamblers realize the odds stacked against them. Don't gamble with your life. Use a condom. Stop the spread of AIDS."
Kharas said the idea for the spots came from his co-producer, South African film writer Brent Quint, who believes that AIDS is "a preventable disease," and that using animated figures and humor can get across the message that condoms are essential for safe sex. The spots are being shown in South Africa, Canada and the Netherlands and have won 25 international awards and a strong endorsement from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who called them "a powerful communicating tool to encourage people to change their behavior."
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