condom crisis

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Condom crisis: Capetonians asked to ‘rubber up’ as STIs soar

The City of Cape Town is facing a condom crisis as it has recorded a sharp decline in their use but an increase in STI’s.

condom crisis

Photo: Shutterstock

The City of Cape Town’s Health Department has recorded a significant drop in condom use, with a correlating rise in the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), STIs are a serious public health issue. It’s estimated that globally, more than a million people are diagnosed with one or more sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia or syphilis every day. 

February is Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)/Condom Month and women and men alike are encouraged to have health checks and take charge of their reproductive well-being.


According to the City of Cape Town, the use of male condoms has nearly halved, while the use of female condoms is just more than a third of the previous year. This is the second consecutive year which shows a decline.

The City’s MMC for Community Services and Health, Patricia van der Ross said the decline in the use of prophylactics is concerning, especially when coupled with the rise in STIs. 

“With February being the month of love, I want to challenge both men and women to start loving themselves first and take the necessary precautions with regards to their reproductive well-being,” she said.

The City said the use of male condoms dropped from 30,6 million during the 2019/2020 financial year to 16 085 200 during the 2020/2021 financial year.

In addition, the use of female condoms dropped from 954 599 to 305 400 in the respective financial years, which could partially be attributed to people staying at home as per the health directive and fewer visits to clinics during the festive season.

“STIs need not be a big problem as most of the infections can be cured. Reluctance to seek medical treatment because of the fear of being stigmatised is one of many reasons why many wait until it’s too late. The consequences of not seeking treatment can be devastating and life threatening.

“You can get an STI even if you have sex only once with an infected partner. Untreated STIs can affect an unborn baby, cause mental illness or damage to the heart and kidneys, infertility, as well as cancer of the sex organs.”

Patricia van der Ross

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