The Love Condoms campaign, a community awareness initiative, kicked off on Monday February 12.
The week-long campaign focused on educating the community about the importance of good sexual health. As part of the campaign, the TB/ HIV Care Association and Siyayinqoba Project distributed eye-catching, flavoured condoms across the city; held outreach events to educate people about the importance of consistently using condoms; and conducted health checks, including HIV/Aids testing.
TB/ HIV Care Association Khayelitsha co-ordinator, Lulama Jacobs, said the newly-designed condoms were targeted at young adults.
She said there had been some challenges convincing people to always use condoms. “We are hoping people will see the need to use condoms. Our task is to keep on encouraging everyone to use condoms and we will pursue that,” she said.
Alison Best, TB/HIV Care Association’s communications manager, stressed that her organisation would continue to encourage people to pursue a healthy lifestyle, prioritise prevention of HIV and STIs and promote condoms as an everyday part of sexual relationships.
She said the campaign was about loving yourself, loving your body and protecting your sexual health.“Ultimately, love is about protection of both yours and your partner’s life. South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic in the world with an estimated 7.1 million people living with HIV in 2016.”
She said the country also had the largest treatment and prevention programme in the world.
In 2016/2017 the country distributed 917 253 117 male condoms through public health facilities, NGOs and other outlets, she said.
“This has increased significantly on previous years, and is indicative of South Africa’s commitment to curtailing the spread of the disease. But so much more needs to be done.
“Although condoms are freely available, many people still do not use condoms consistently or at all which is concerning, as condoms are still the only method which prevents HIV, STIs and unwanted pregnancies,” she said.
Ms Best said for various reasons the majority of young people still did not use condoms.
“Some people believe condoms make sex less pleasurable, others are afraid to ask their partners to use a condom for fear of losing their partners or even for fear of experiencing violence. We’d like to encourage people to explore different condoms to find what best suits them.
“The idea of trying one of the newer scented condoms could even be one way of introducing the idea of condoms into a relationship,” she concluded.
Thembelani Mabhiya, Siyayinqoba co-ordinator, said they support programmes that empower young women and men to take control over their sexual health.
“We have a challenge with young people, but we have to keep on showing the bright side of life. They might be resistant because of lack of knowledge. Ours is to educate them,” he said.
One of the young adults, Mzekiliso Mangaliso, said: “It is about time that as young people we use condoms for our own good. I am here because I care about my health and that of my partner.”