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Friday, 14 February 2014

Aids prevalence reduces as world marks International Condom Day

By Philip Mwamrizi and Bob Aston 

International Condom Day was commemorated on February 13, 2014. The day was set aside to promote the use of condoms as a means of preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The day is an informal observance celebrated in conjunction with Valentine's Day.  This year’s theme was ‘Love is the Best Protection’.
The annual event organized by (AIDS Healthcare Foundation) strives to promote condom use as a way to prevent new HIV infections and help partners protect themselves and their loved ones from sexually transmitted diseases. Currently, condoms are the only widely available, proven method for reducing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during intercourse.
Condom dispenser placed near the laboratory
Christopher Njeru Mugo, the Sipili Public Health Technician, said that there were quite a number of HIV/AIDS patients with almost no cases of other common STIs. Those infected with HIV/AIDS visit the facility every month for clinics and for their free ARV drugs courtesy of the government.
Christopher said that practicing abstinence would help to reduce HIV infection. He said that the dispensary has placed condom dispensers at strategic locations in the vicinity for the public. The dispensary has also been on the forefront of championing practicing of safe sex.
Looking around the main block at Sipili health centre one would notice a blue box hanged at the wall, the condom dispenser. A keener observation will show the required content in plenty.
“People do help themselves with them and we do replenish at least once a week. I guess they are more comfortable picking them here than buying at the shops,” said Esther Wanjiku, the lab technician.
“We also do send out boxes to local bars though the flow there is not as fast as the one at the health centre,” added Esther.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was declared a national disaster in Kenya in 1999 when it claimed more than 500, 000 lives.
A survey by the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) released on September last year shows that 5.6 percent of adults in Kenya, an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS compared to 2007, when the prevalence was 7.2 percent.
The report further shows more women than men are infected with HIV at 6.9 percent for women and 4.4 percent for men.
It also indicates that there is higher prevalence of the killer disease in urban areas than rural areas at 6.5 percent and 5.1 percent respectively.
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