. . . as Lesotho marks Condom Day
LESOTHO commemorated the recent International Condom Day with various activities in different parts of the country including the distribution of 12 000 condoms in Mafeteng and demonstrations on their proper use as vital weapons in the fight against HIV and other Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STIs) as well as unwanted pregnancies.
The day is celebrated globally on 13 February 2017 with the aim of promoting the use of condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted infections and the spread of HIV through safe sex practices.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association (LPPA) and Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (LENEPWA) collaborated to mark the day by distributing condoms and demonstrating their correct use in Mafeteng under the theme of the Four Cs, “Condomise Caz Condoms are Cool”.
Speaking to the Sunday Express on the sidelines of the event, a member of the Mothers to Mothers programme, Retšelisitsoe Khojane said condoms saved many lives by preventing STIs and it was therefore crucial to spead the word about their importance and correct use of condoms among as well as making them available to the people at all times.
“People need to know the importance of condoms in their lives especially adults who are at an age where they are sexually active,” Ms Khojane said, adding, “I know that condoms are very crucial in my life because when I use them they protect me from infections,” Ms Khojane said.
Ms Khojane said they had a programme to sensitise the public about the correct use of condoms but they often faced challenges from some people who either failed to understand or were simply not interested in discussing the use of condoms despite their importance in their lives.
“There are those people who understand the importance of condoms but don’t like them saying they have side effects on their bodies while some complain that the use of condoms reduces the sexual desire. Therefore, our work is to ensure that we use such days to preach the right word and influence the people to use them.
“There is also a challenge of people especialy women who still have think using other contraceptives is fine and they don’t have to use condoms.Most contraceptives only prevent pregnancies and not diseases so we still encourage the use of condoms even when a person is on contraceptives because a condom also prevents STIs and HIV.”
For her part UNFPA National Programme Analyst-Adolescents and Youth, Maseretse Ratia said given “the high HIV prevelance of 24.6 percent in Lesotho condoms come as a good preventive measure of HIV by preventing first infections and re-infections”.
“At UNFPA we procure and support the government of Lesotho with free condoms to the public, so we make sure that condoms are available and at easily accessible places. Today we distributed 11520 pieces of male condoms and 100 pieces of female condoms where we also encouraged the consistant use of condoms at all times
“For UNFPA, condoms are a critical component in a comprehensive and sustainable approach to the prevention of HIV and other STIs and are effective for preventing unintended pregnancies. They have also been found to have helped to reduce HIV transmission and curtailed the broader spread of HIV,” Ms Ratia said.
Ms Ratia said while distributing condoms in one area of Mafeteng they were told by the community that free condoms were only found at the council office and at the area chief’s place adding that they were very reluctant to go and get condoms there because they are ashamed to do so.
She said they also supported government by providing comprehensive sexuality education to youths to help them understand the importance of condoms so that they were in a position to make informed decisions before engaging in sex.