R17m worth of condoms for EC

The Eastern Cape has bought male and female condoms worth R17-million.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: The Eastern Cape government has purchased R17-million worth of condoms to help fight the HIV AIDS pandemic in South Africa

Yesterday as South Africa kicked off Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and Condom week provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the department had spent millions in part to assist in unwanted pregnancies.

This comes as the state announced over the weekend that the Western Cape was fast running out of the popular flavoured condoms launched by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa last year.

Ramaphosa introduced the MAX condoms in parliament last August after the government received complaints that Choice condoms were “smelly” and “noisy”.

The MAX condoms come in a variety of colours and flavours, including strawberry, grape and vanilla.

“We are promoting safe sex,” Kupelo said.

“We are worried about the non-usage of condoms in the province.

“This is illustrated by the services of termination of pregnancy used as a contraceptive,” he said.

Kupelo was critical of people who used excuses to avoid condoms, like saying they were allergic to latex, or that the condoms were too small or they wanted skin-to-skin sensation.

“Condoms are very flexible and they are for all sizes.

“Those who are gifted and those who are not gifted can all use condoms.

“It is reckless and negligent to refuse to use a condom because of those reasons,” he said.

Kupelo added that HIV was a “real problem” in the province and that the distribution of condoms should not be seen as less important because there were other challenges faced by the health department.

Asked if providing condoms was fair while there were those complaining about the government not providing free sanitary towels to the poor, Kupelo said it was a policy decision.

“It is a necessary call to provide sanitary towels but the two issues cannot be compared.

“They are both necessary,” he added.

In observing International Condom Day yesterday, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) Hilary Thulare said: “Condoms are the most reliable way to protect yourself from HIV, STIs and pregnancy.

“Despite that, they are not popular among young people.”

Thulare said they wanted to educate young people about the benefits of using condoms as well as taking the opportunity to change the perception that using condoms make sex boring. — siyab@dispatch.co.za