OPINION: Use a condom, safer is fun and sexy!
By Alvin Mwangi
According to the Kenya HIV Estimates Report of 2018 by National AIDS Control Council (NACC), there were approximately 52,800 new infections across all ages, 44,800 among adults aged 15 and above and 8,000 among children aged 14 years and below
Condoms fall in the barrier methods of contraception and are able to prevent exchange of reproductive fluids during sexual intercourse.
Access to consistent supply of a wide range of condoms, both male and female, has been a challenge countrywide with some of the young people reporting stock outs in some of the health facilities. Condoms act as dual protection, protecting against pregnancy and STIs including HIV.
Unsafe sex is risky especially with people who have more than one sexual partner, or are in a non-committed kind of relationships or marriage. It is proven that condoms provide protection from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy to a degree of 98%.
Access to correct and consistent information and supply of affordable products remain a challenge especially in the rural areas. Issues around stock out have been reported in some of the counties leaving the young people in a dilemma of what other barrier method to use?
When engaging in safe sex, it increases confidence and courage to both partners. There has been an increased alleged perception of increase in sexual encounters and behaviors, especially in Nairobi, where everyone is “doing it” with everyone.
The government, through National AIDS Control Council (NACC) has been supplying condoms through hospitals and even through community outreaches, and this has encouraged the practice of safe sex among young people.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has slightly shifted focus to the pandemic and reduced other priorities like condom distribution which in turn has resulted to Increase in Unintended Pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections.
In some of the hard to reach areas, Young people continue to suffer from this problem, as they lack access and information on Correct and Consistent Condom use.
As we mark the “International Condom Day” on February 13, 2021, the Government through the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) should ensure consistent supply of a free range, diverse and affordable male and female condoms as well as lubricant products across the country to encourage young people to practice safe sex.
It should encourage young people to emulate “No Rubber No Ride” and also reduce the rate of increasing infections around HIV and unintended pregnancies.
Alvin Mwangi is Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate in Nairobi, Kenya