AHF Eswatini launched a three-month condom distribution campaign meant to increase
AHF Eswatini – an extension of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest global AIDS organization – is partnering with government and non-government organizations on a three-month Condom Nation campaign led by the Eswatini Ministry of Health’s Sexual Reproductive Health Unit (SRHU) to increase both access and education about condoms and proper condom use. Following a successful launch on June 22nd in Buhleni, the traveling Condom Nation Tour will make ten stops throughout Eswatini, culminating on August 24th in Manzini.
The successful first event was held at the Buhleni Bus Rank in the small town of Buhleni, which doesn’t have any defined condom distribution points. A large crowd enjoyed live performances and informative presentations as 37,008 male and 158 female condoms were distributed and 124 people were tested for HIV. In addition to the Ministry of Health and AHF Eswatini, partner organizations on the campaign include Alliance of Mayors’ Initiative for Community Action on AIDS at the Local Level (AMICAALL), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Family Life Association Eswatini (FLAS), Lusweti, and Population Services International Eswatini (PSI Eswatini).
Because many young people in Eswatini still believe that abstinence is the ideal way to prevent the spread of HIV, they are often too embarrassed to seek out condoms if they do decide to have sex. This, coupled with the idea that not using condoms shows a sign of trust and commitment, has led to HIV prevalence being highest among young adults, peaking at ages 25 – 29, an age group in which one of every two women is HIV-positive. For young people aged 15 – 24, HIV prevalence is 22.7% for women and 5.9% for men.
“While other interventions like circumcision have had widespread promotion in the form of media and promotional events, condoms have not had similar promotion in this country,” said Dr. Nduduzo Dube, Country Program Manager for AHF Eswatini. “There is a need, therefore, to strengthen education on correct and consistent male and female condom use.”
With dual goals of increasing education about condoms among young people and improving access to both male and female condoms, the Condom Nation tour will have a target audience of youth aged 18 – 24, but will be open to all sexually active people. Individuals under the age of 18 will be taken to separate area to receive age-appropriate education about condom use.
Following the successful Buhleni launch, the Tour stops include: June 29th in Mankayane, July 6th in Matsapha, July 13th in Matata, July 20th in Lavumisa, July 27th in Mbabane, August 3rd in Siteki, August 10th in Pigg’s Peak, August 17th in Nhlangano, and finally August 24th in the capital city of Manzini.