By Olasunkanmi Onifade
The AIDS HealthCare Foundation (AHF), a Non-Governmental Organisation, says it will distribute over 600,000 condoms across the country as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Condom Day.
Mr Steve Aborisade, the Advocacy and Marketing Manager of the Foundation, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja said the day was set aside to promote the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
“The commemoration is usually observed on Feb. 13 in preceding Valentine’s Day, however, the day was moved to Feb. 7 due to the upcoming general elections. The condoms will be distributed in Abuja, and five other states of Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Anambra and Cross River,’’ he said.
The Country Programme Director, Dr Echey Ijezie, AHF-Nigeria, said that the Nigerian National Condom Strategy emphasised a deficit of 564 million condoms annually in the country.
He said the National AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey 2012 indicated that despite the increased awareness about condom in Nigeria, there is still low acceptance.
“Abstinence from sex, for those who can, remains very effective in preventing STIs and unplanned pregnancies. AHF is however confident that when we keep reminding people about using condoms with access to free condoms, we would have helped to reduce new HIV and STIs, prevent unwanted pregnancies, while promoting healthy lifestyle choices,’’ Ijezie said.
According to Chief Global Policy and Advocacy AHF, Mr Terri Ford, condoms are still the cheapest and best option for preventing HIV and STDs, in addition to unwanted pregnancies.
“Our International Condom Day events are a fun way to bring people together and get them information about how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy. International Condom Day also helps remind people that there is still an HIV crisis across the globe,’’ he added.
AHF President, Mr Michael Weinstein, also said that promoting safe sex practices was also important in a time when funding for global health has remained flat for the last several years.
He said that lack of funds also includes money for condoms, adding that it is critical to stay healthy and be disease-free, particularly in countries that experience higher prevalence rates for HIV.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organisation, currently provides medical care and services to more than one million clients in 43 countries.