Choice facts about condoms

08 October 2012 - 02:30 By KATHARINE CHILD
According to new research, many people don't use condoms correctly.
According to new research, many people don't use condoms correctly.
Image: ©Dino O.

Condoms have taken centre stage in the past week as the education and health ministers argue about whether they should be handed out to teenagers.

If the health minister gets the go-ahead to supply condoms to schools when President Jacob Zuma announces the schools health plan at the end of this week, he might face multiple challenges - including missing condom distribution targets and widespread dissatisfaction with the state's Choice condoms.

The Department of Health's 2011-2012 annual report, released last week, revealed that the government missed its condom distribution target of one-billion by 600-million.

NGO Anova Health Institute's Dr Kevin Rebe called the government's one-size-fits-all Choice condom the "no choice" condom.

"We hear from township men that the same size does not fit all. Some men say they need bigger condoms. We have also had requests for smaller ones for adolescents," he said.

Rebe suggested supplying a variety of condoms to give people a choice.

"When we bring [to our clinics] larger, coloured and flavoured condoms there is a huge demand. Anything innovative or a bit different increases uptake.

"We brought in blackcurrant- flavoured condoms, which happened to be black."

He said he was surprised when a Congolese asked why he should put a white condom on his black penis.

Rebe said it was essential to put condoms in the open at places such as bars and not just in toilets, where they might be missed.

Aids Community Media Trust spokesman Jack Lewis said another problem affecting condom use was that people did not use them after reaching the six-week mark in a relationship.

Lewis said he thought the Health Department made so many condoms available to ensure that they were used consistently and not just at the start of a relationship.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's spokesman, Joe Maila, said despite missing the target forcondom distribution by 600 million there was no shortage of condoms.

A global latex shortage had pushed up prices and suppliers had been unable to meet tender requirements at the agreed price.

The Treatment Action Campaign said condoms were widely available in Gauteng , Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape but two Limpopo districts had run short of condoms in the past two weeks.