Condoms too small for Ugandans - legislators

Condoms too small for Ugandans - legislators
condom in the African hands

This year’s National Condom Day celebrations will be commemorated in Lyantonde district which is among the districts with high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.

KAMPALA - Parliament has tasked the Ministry of Health to address concerns that condoms on the market are "too small" for Ugandans.

The concerns were raised by a section of legislators as they reacted on Uganda’s preparations to commemorate the International Condom Day, which is slated for Tuesday, February 13.

Marked annually, the International Condom Day is a global advocacy and awareness day to promote the use of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), including HIV, and unplanned pregnancies.

On Friday, some MPs observed that most condoms on the market do not fit Ugandans. They also pointed gaps in educating Ugandans on proper use of condoms in efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS transmission.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa tasked Health minister Ruth Aceng to respond to the concerns raised by the legislators.

“On a very serious note, protection is one of the preventive measures promoted by government and I don’t know why you are laughing, only that it is a day I have never heard of being celebrated," Tayebwa said.

"But I think Parliament is a platform which we use to inform and educate the public about such issues, so Minister, bring a statement on this.”

Dr Aceng confirmed that the condom day exists and the events are held to purposely sensitize the public on the importance of using condoms.

“The National Condoms Day is commemorated annually and it is true that people know about condoms, but many don’t use them for protection, so the day is held as an advocacy to remind people to use condoms for protection," she said.

"The member is requesting that we bring a paper here, Speaker, I will leave that to your discretion."

It is estimated that every year, more than one million people acquire STIs and estimated 80 million unintended pregnancies globally.

Available data shows that of the youth aged between 25-29 in Uganda, 38% do use condoms, and among women aged 24-25, the condom use is too low.

More than 8,000 girls got pregnant during COVID-19 lockdown.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that unprotected sexual intercourse between male and female is a predominant mode of HIV transmission among partners whose status is unknown.

About 1.4 million people are living with HIV in the country, with 43% of new HIV infections occurring in the country.

Last year, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) country director Henry Magala said, if Ugandans emphasized prevention, 70% of the diseases would be prevented.

“According to the AIDS 8th review 2021, we had 53,000 new infections and sex accounts for 80% of the HIV infections and other STDs. If the above people had used condoms correctly and consistently, 42,000 new infections would have been averted if the programing was right and condoms available.” Magala said.

Currently, HIV prevalence is highest in the Central region (10.4%) due to its urbanization and location of the capital city Kampala — home to 1.5 million people.

The discovery that AIDS was a sexually transmitted disease, and the only way to protect against it was through barrier methods, led to the biggest spike in condom usage the world has ever seen.

ABOUT CONDOMS

King Minos of Crete used a goat’s bladder sheath during intercourse to protect his wife from his semen, which is said to have been full of ‘serpents and scorpions’. That was around 3,000 BC.

According to the MediBank's History of Condoms, manufacturing with rubber kicked off during the Industrial Revolution in America, and in 1839, Charles Goodyear invented rubber vulcanization. The first condoms made of rubber were made in 1855 and by the 1860s, rubber condoms were being mass produced. Skin condoms were still more popular though, because they were cheaper and the early rubber ones tended to fall off.

In 1920 came latex, made using a process with rubber suspended in water. Latex condoms were cheaper and easier to produce and so replaced skin condoms in popularity.

During World War I, the United States and Britain were the only countries in Europe who did not provide condoms to their soldiers, and by the end of the war documented cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea in the American military skyrocketed.

Back then, syphilis killed more people every year than AIDS at its peak, and there was an awful lot of money spent on treating troops. Learning from its mistakes, the US military jumped on board in World War II and distributed condoms to soldiers.

Shortly afterwards, Britain made up for being slow on the uptake by creating the very first lubricated condom, produced by Durex in 1957. Condom use surged, with 42% of sexually active people between 1955-1965 relying on them for birth control.

Widespread use of penicillin and the contraceptive pill saw condom use plummet until the '80s and the emergence of HIV/AIDS.

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