Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
MALE and female condom use in Gweru District has decreased gradually from January to June as the biggest users — institutions of higher learning and night spots — are closed due to Covid-19.
Sexual relations may be transformed in the new context of the pandemic, but they have not stopped.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Murari Hwingwiri, National Aids Council Gweru District Aids Co-ordinator said statistics show condom uptake of both female and male had decreased.
“For Gweru District, condom uptake has been very low this particular period. As I look at our statistics, I am seeing that in January condom uptake for males, that is the male condoms was at 19 600 in January and it has gone down gradually up to June where uptake was at 10 400 units. And for the female condom, in January, the uptake was at 11 040 but it also went down to the current 760 in June,” said Mr Hwingwiri.
He said there were a number of reasons for the low uptake of condoms, the major one being the closure of colleges and one university which have a lot of sexually active youths.
Mr Hwingwiri said the other reason is because nightclubs and beer halls are also closed adding that these were places where commercial sex workers and their clients used to collect condoms. “The statistics show that condom uptake this year has been very low and there are a number of reasons why the scenario is like that. For starters, we usually distribute our condoms using condom dispensers that we gave to colleges and universities in Gweru. You know these institutions of higher learning are currently closed and that is where we find quite a number of youths who are sexually active and usually consume a lot of condoms. And again, there is an issue of night spots that are closed and also beer halls which are also closed because of the current Covid-19-induced national lockdown which makes it impossible for some people to access condoms from those joints,” he said.
Mr Hwingwiri urged people to get condoms from clinics adding that the Covid-19 pandemic should not disrupt the supply for condoms.
“But still we are saying those who want the condoms can look for them at clinics which we have been supplying. Anyone who wants to use condoms can go and get them from local clinics,” he said.
“We also say condoms uptake is a proxy indicator that people are using protection because the assumption is that when one collects the condoms, he or she must use them instead of putting them in the pocket. We want to believe that those who collect them use them. We are encouraging sexually active people to continue using the condoms even under lockdown and we will continue to supply the clinics.”