On our health calendar, February is also known as the “Sexual and Reproductive Healthy Lifestyle Month”. This includes governmental initiatives around family planning and STI/Condom week to reduce the spread of STIs and STDs, including the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Why is there a need to create campaigns around STI/Condom week in February? Condoms reduce the spread of STI, promote safe sex, prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and also control the spread of HIV and AIDS. In South Africa, millions of people are living with HIV and AIDS as well as other STIs. Stats from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases say that in 2017, 7.9-million people in South Africa were living with HIV. Also in 2017, an estimated 2.3-million new cases of gonorrhoea, 1.9-million new chlamydia cases and 23 175 new syphilis cases were found in women aged between 15 and 49. In that same year, among men of the same age, there were an estimated 2.2-million new cases of gonorrhoea, 3.- million new cases of chlamydia and 47 500 new cases of syphilis.
STI/Condom Week is a health awareness event held over the same week as Valentine’s Day each year to highlight the importance of condom usage and inform people about the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. For more information, see the South African booklet here.
Condom Dos and Don’ts
In South Africa, government-approved condoms are freely available at public health facilities and other public institutions. Both female and male condoms are freely available. This section provides advice for safe and healthy condom usage, by the South African government.
– Check the expiration date on the package.
– Do not use condoms that are already opened, torn or expired.
– Use only condoms that are made of latex or polyurethane (plastic). Do not use condoms made of animal skin.
– Use a pre-lubricated condom to help prevent it from tearing. Put a little bit of water-based lubricant (“lube”) outside the condom.
– Do not keep condoms in a place that can get very hot, like in a car. If you keep a condom in your wallet or purse, be sure you replace it with a new one regularly
– Do not use male and female condoms together, at the same time.
– Do not reuse condoms.