NEW DELHI, India - Sex worker Shaalu is using fewer condoms when she meets her clients in New Delhi -- not out of choice, but because a funding crunch and procurement delays in the state-run HIV/AIDS programme have disrupted supplies of free condoms.
"I am more scared of HIV now," said Shaalu, 32, who often resorts to unsafe sex as free condoms are scarce and she is hard pressed for funds to repay a debt of $4,500.
India provides free condoms under its community-based AIDS prevention programme that targets high-risk groups like sex workers. That strategy, the World Bank estimates, helped avert 3 million HIV infections between 1995 and 2015.
But government data released last week showed about two-thirds of India's 31 state AIDS units had less than a month's supply of condoms. Some states only have enough for a few days.
Reliable supplies are key experts fear that the shortage could lead to more unsafe sex and increased infections, among the poor.