Love in the Time of Carnival

This February 14th, hundreds of thousands of couples will be kissing in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Is there a mass Valentine's Day celebration planned? No, it's the city's world-famous carnival.

Nearly five-hundred street parties, known as “blocos,” are expected to take over the Brazilian metropolis throughout the four-day holiday dragging millions of revelers in tow.

With names like “Kiss Me I’m a Filmmaker” and “Fire and Passion,” the blocos are a petri dish of passion. In the midst of the samba music, free-flowing beer and hot summer sun instant (and mostly brief) romances are born.

It usually takes a glance, a wink or a clever costume to conquer the spoils of the flirtation war. 

In order to help those still on the prowl, "O Globo," the city's main daily newspaper, placed a sort of classified ad on their Instagram feed. The post encourages followers to upload a selfie onto the photo sharing app with the hashtag #beijaeu (“kiss me” in Portuguese). According to the caption, a mural of the selected participants will be published on Saturday.

The Brazilian Health Ministry also turned to mobile technology and put their latest carnival HIV/AIDS prevention campaign at the tip of their 15-24 target audience's finger tips. 

In a video published on the Ministry's Youtube channel, people are shown at a bar interacting with fictitious singles on the dating apps Tinder and Hornet. The fake users state they enjoy unprotected sex on their profile. When an interested party swipes or interacts with the bate, a message appears on the screen:

"Hey, it's difficult to know who has HIV/AIDS. Have fun, but use protection. This is a message from the Brazilian Health Ministry, remember this tip and get tested."

A recent study showed 45% of sexually active Brazilians practiced unprotected sex in the past twelve months. A separate report revealed the number of cases among young people had increased by 32% in the past decade.

According to Health Minister Arthur Chioro, more than 70 million condoms will be distributed throughout the country during the extended holiday weekend. 

Despite acting as a government public service announcement, Tinder deleted the profiles. In an interview with International Business Times UK, communications director Rosetter Pambakian said the ministry violated the company’s terms of services.

Brazil is currently one of the dating app’s largest consumer markets. More than 10 million users have signed up since it was launched in late 2013.

In the end, all is fair in the carnival love and war. The Brazilian government simply recommends you pack a shield for protection (and some chapstick and maybe breath mints).