By Tione Andsen
Government has expressed concern over low condom uptake and usage among the youth in the country in a drive to promote safe sex.
Chief Director in the Ministry of Health and Population responsible for Safe Motherhood, Ethel Kapyepye disclosed this Saturday during the commemoration of 2019 International Condom Day (ICD) and launch of two brands of condoms at Chinsapo UNICEF ground in Lilongwe.
She said unwanted pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among the youth are on the increase as a result of low usage of condoms.
Kapyepye noted that despite government efforts to sensitize communities on the need to go for safe sex and curb further spread of HIV, most youth have been found wanting as they opt not to use condoms during their sexual encounters.
The Chief Director said some of the challenges that have been highlighted are that cultural and religious beliefs are contributing factors which are discouraging many youth from viewing condoms as a protector to their lives.
“Stigma and inaccessibility of the commodity among youth has played a part which has seen increases of cases of unwanted pregnancies and HIV transmission among young people,” Kapyepye stated.
She said ICD is an informal holiday usually observed on February 13 in conjunction with Valentine’s Day which seeks to promote safer sex by promoting the use of condoms in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs.
Kapyepye described the launch of the new brands of condoms named Love and Icon as a key milestone in complementing the already existing condoms available on the market and health facilities.
She believes that this initiative would encourage more youth and adults to have a set variety of condoms which would be accessible to them for correct use all the time.
“By 2014, condoms had prevented around 50 million new HIV infections globally since the onset of the HIV epidemic,” the Chief Director observed.
She said the 2018-2020 HIV Prevention Strategy aims to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections to 11,000 by the end of 2020, from a baseline of 36,000 in 2016.
“This will be realized by, among others, consistent use of condoms among males and females during high-risk sexual encounters,” Kapyepye added.
Director of HIV and AIDS in the Ministry of Health, Rose Nyirenda said people need to value and trust condoms in the quest to contain the spread of HIV in the country.
She said safer sex could only be attained if communities are properly sensitized on the importance of using condoms on regular basis.
“We need to realize that some STIs have medication available but HIV has no medication and the only way to prevent contracting it is by using condoms always during sexual encounters to avoid catching the virus,” Nyirenda pointed out.
Country Programme Manager for AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Triza Hara disclosed that the new brands of condoms that were launched would be freely distributed in all hotspots and health facilities.
She said her organization was working in partnership with the Ministry and other development partners to ensure that the accessibility of condoms among communities is enhanced.
This year’s ICD theme is “Safer is Fun”.
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Publish date : 2019-02-25 15:20:50