Students Reject Free Government Condoms Saying they ‘Stink’

Now Daily

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Students in tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe have rejected the use of government-issue condoms saying they are not fashionable.

“There was a general reluctance to use public sector-provided male condoms, which were derogatorily referred to by most students as ‘madembare’, ‘emapundu’ and ‘double butterfly’. They preferred Protector Plus model which was not readily available to them,” says a report by Unesco titled, ‘Situation analysis of the higher and tertiary education institutions responses to HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe’.

The Protector Plus brand’s producers, the American non-governmental organization Population Services International (PSI) has gone to great lengths to make its product appeal to the youth and new users, recently launching a line of fruit-scented condoms for sale at subsidized prices.

“In other extreme cases, students complained about lack of access to condoms, for example in church-owned institutions such as Solusi University and Chinhoyi School of Nursing, where the condoms were only available at the main hospital. Female students expressed the need for female condoms to be made readily accessible,” the Unesco report said, adding that “there was a myth that only sex workers are at high risk” and therefore should use condoms.

The rejection of free government-issue condoms has led to an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in higher education institutions, it emerged. This has been worsened by reports that many infected students were not making use of clinics set up at various universities and colleges to treat STIs.

“There were very few STI cases, an average of one a month. Some students indicated that the clinics were not youth-friendly, as the nurses were judgemental and would lecture you instead of offering counselling services before treatment. Some students were not willing to bring their partners as requested by the nurses when dealing with STIs,” said the report.

One of the institutions worst-hit by HIV/AIDS, Midlands State University has set up a 24 hour clinic offering condoms, counselling, testing and treatment.

“However, attendance is low because of stigmatization,” said the report.

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