"Condom Mobile" Stolen

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Missing in Mexico: One truck carrying 5,000 condoms, 800 HIV tests and a 23-foot (7 meter) inflatable prophylactic.

The coordinator of an HIV/AIDS awareness tour, Polo Gomez, said Wednesday that the "Condomovil" was parked in front of a friend's house in Mexico City when it disappeared Sunday evening. He believes the truck was stolen, but he doesn't know why. Police are still investigating.

The truck should be easy to spot. It features painted images of a peeled banana, the exposed part shaped like a condom, and a shirtless man saying: "I protect myself. Do you?"

Gomez estimated US$19,000 (200,000 pesos) worth of material is missing, including the truck, its contents and sound equipment.

As many as 440,000 Mexicans are living with HIV, according to 2005 estimates from UNICEF.

The Condomovil program has toured Mexico since 1998 promoting safe sex practices while distributing 1.2 million condoms to more than 700,000 people, Gomez said. The inflatable condom was used to draw attention from passers-by.

Gomez said a scheduled tour of Mexico's south would likely be canceled unless the truck is found.

The group bought the truck with a grant from Mexico's federal Health Department. The department also donated the 5,000 condoms in the truck when it went missing.


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