HARARE - At least 110 million condoms were distributed in 2016 alone a figure which ministry of Health officials say shows that Zimbabweans are now playing it safe.
In a statement ahead of the International Condom Day tomorrow, the ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) said the female condom was slowly gaining popularity.
This follows 2015 figures which indicated that 115 million condoms were distributed with 110 male and five million female condoms.
“A total of 105 million male condoms were distributed countrywide in 2016 alone. The female condoms continue to slowly gain popularity and in 2016, a total of 4,5 million were distributed,” the statement read.
This year Condom Day will be held under the theme “Always in Fashion”, with the ministry saying the theme is seeking to recognise that condoms will always be relevant, trendy and significant.
“The MOHCC remains committed to ensuring that we strengthen the promotion of condom use which WHO and UNAids endorsed as one of the proven high-impact HIV prevention interventions.
“The use of either the male or female condom has added advantage of also being a family planning method which prevents unplanned pregnancies,” the ministry said in the statement.
Stakeholders in the health sector have attributed the HIV prevalence decline to high condom use.
A study carried out by the ministry of health and UNFPA found out that 80 percent of women and 75 percent of men accepted the female condom.
The study also showed that only one percent of women reported difficulties in using the condom.
Zimbabwe has the 10th highest condom use, with 44,3 percent of surveyed people reporting to use condoms in their sexual encounters.
While the country is among the HIV high risk group countries, Zimbabwe has the highest per capita condom use in the world.
According to the UNAids Prevention Gap Report for 2016, the condom gap in Sub-Saharan Africa was more than three billion condoms per year.
The report also shows that an estimated 45 million HIV infections have been averted through condom use globally since 1990, while achieving the global condom target for 2020 would avert 3,4 million new infections.
There was a seven percent increase in sexually transmitted diseases in 2016’s first quarter with 288 127 people seeking treatment against 268 353 recorded during the same period in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Gays and Lesbians Associations of Zimbabwe (Galz) peer educator Bee Poller, said while condoms were being distributed widely, the homosexual community was not being catered for despite being a key population.
“Most of the condoms on the market cater for heterosexual relationships. We have had to find donors to assist with condoms,” he said.