PIETERMARITZBURG, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – A new public sector condom brand targeting young people has been launched in South Africa to strengthen efforts to reduce the spread of HIV, among young people in particular.
The condom was launched by Health Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi in KwaZulu-Natal, the province home to the highest number of people living with HIV and new infections in the country.
The move comes in response to 2012 evidence from a study supported by UNFPA South Africa that condom use was on the decline, especially among young people.
150,000 youths infected each year
It is estimated that each year, about 150,000 young people aged between 15-24 years acquire HIV and 72,000 adolescent girls give birth, representing the magnitude of the problem in the country.
The new brand, known as ‘Max’, which will replace the 10-year-old free public sector brand, ‘Choice’, follows on from the success in uptake of a youth-specific grape-scented brand developed through UNFPA-supported studies. It is available in four different colours and scents.
UNFPA provided technical assistance in the generation of evidence on condom branding and its effectiveness in meeting the needs of young people.
The launch of the new condom brand formed part of the launch by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa of a national campaign to reduce HIV, teenage pregnancy, school drop-out and gender-based violence among young women and adolescent girls.
I know of only one product that can help us prevent the three major challenges we face – HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, especially in young girls. This is the condom. - Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister
Dr. Motsoaledi highlighted the importance of condom use in the response to HIV. He spoke of the critical role of evidence in supporting the development of national programmes. “I know of only one product that can help us prevent the three major challenges we face – HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, especially in young girls. This is the condom. There is no other proven weapon,” he said.
“We have procured new coloured and scented condoms to increase condom use among young people. They provide the four maximums: maximum pleasure, maximum protection, maximum quality and maximum number of young people making use of them.”
UNFPA Representative Dr. Esther Muia handed to Dr. Motsoaledi more than 500 condom dispensers with a total capacity of 115,000 condoms, as part of UNFPA’s support to the health sector in making condoms available for young people, including at institutions of higher learning.
By Ziyanda Ngoma