Abstinence and fidelity are being accorded priority over condoms in the battle against Aids by India's Health Minister, Sushma Swaraj. According to The Times of India, Ms Swaraj has ordered the federal government's National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) to stop making adverts focusing on condom use for mass media campaigns on Aids prevention and instead emphasise fidelity to check the spread of the disease. The dramatic shift has been confirmed by Naco director Meenakshi Dutta Ghosh. But downgrading the role of the condom in Aids prevention has outraged many experts and non-governmental organisations battling the disease. With an estimated four million cases, India has the highest number of HIV/Aids cases in the world after South Africa. Ms Swaraj argues condom-centric adverts in newspapers, radio and TV are against what she describes as 'Indian ethos' and promote promiscuity rather than fight Aids. Bowing to the conservative Hindu minister's whims, Naco is placing orders for adverts and jingles centering around the new buzz words - fidelity and abstinence. Ms Swaraj is believed to have asked Naco to incorporate a couple of her own verses glorifying faithfulness among spouses in its campaign. She has also ordered Naco not to mention the growing incidence of Aids and HIV-infection among homosexuals but to confine its campaign to HIV transmission among heterosexuals. Homosexuality - punishable by imprisonment under Indian laws - is another taboo the prudish Ms Swaraj appears determined to sweep under the carpet. 'Promoting morals over condoms is going to have a disastrous effect,' warned Monalisa Mishra, president of Positive Life. 'Abstinence and fidelity are great concepts but they don't always work in the bedroom, while condoms do. Condoms are not only the most effective way to prevent Aids but also the answer to India's population explosion.' Other experts said most of India's population was under 25 and sexually active, and it was foolish to expect them to practise abstinence. They are urging Ms Swaraj to take a leaf out of Thailand's book. Faced with a galloping rate of HIV infection, Thai Health Minister Mechai Viravaidya launched a countrywide campaign centred around the condom that targeted everyone from school-going teenagers to sex workers, resulting in a dramatic fall in HIV infection and birth rates.