The South African government is to begin distributing flavoured and coloured condoms in an effort to end â€œcondom fatigue” amongst the younger members of its population in reaction to a survey showing HIV infection rates increasing and condom use decreasing. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday that the decline in usage might be because “the standard-issued choice condoms just aren’t cool enough.”
The survey, conducted by South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), found that 67 per cent of males and 50 per cent of females used condoms, which was a decrease from the 2008 figures which showed that 85 per cent of men and 66 per cent of women used them. Condom use had particularly decreased in the 15 to 24 age bracket.
The same survey also showed that percentage of population with HIV had risen from 10.6 per cent in 2008 to 12.2. per cent in 2012. Motsoaledi said that this increase over the four years was because of combined factors including â€œnew infections and a successfully expanded antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme” which is meaning that people are surviving for longer once infected.
South Africa has the highest number of HIV positive people in the world, with 6.4 million citizens suffering from the disease. More than 469,000 new cases were measured in 2012, an increase of just more than 1 per cent of the population, which is the highest in the world. 75 per cent of people who were contacted thought they had a low risk of contracting HIV, yet 10 per cent of those three-quarters were actually already infected with the disease.
Most worrying was the number of new infections of girls aged 15 to 24, who had infection rates four times higher than boys of the same age. Researchers attributed this to the â€œsugar daddy syndrome”.
Responding to the report, Motsoaledi said: “We need to inject enthusiasm into the condom campaign, and we are about to start rolling out new types of free, coloured condoms which are also flavoured.” The coloured and flavoured condoms will be distributed free of charge at South Africa’s universities and colleges.
It remains to be seen whether the distributed free condoms will be used for their intended purpose – in January of this year Mpumalanga district health chief Candith Mashego-Dlamini issued a statement discouraging old people from rubbing the contraceptives on their knees in an attempt to relieve joint pain and arthritis with the lubricant.
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