By Michael Gwarisa
In a bid to promote safe sex, reduce HIV incidence and break the stigma around condoms, SAYWHAT’s CONDOMIZE campaign is riding on the ongoing ICASA conference to distribute free condoms and raise awareness of the benefits of safe sex.
Located in the community hall at the ICASA, the CONDOMIZE stand has become a hive of activity as young people from across genders, disabilities, and backgrounds are getting free condoms as well as demonstrations on the correct and consistent use of condoms.
The campaign kicked off in Epworth over the weekend ahead of the official ICASA commencement on Monday, December 2023.
Speaking to HealthTimes, Delight Murigo, master trainer for the CONDOMIZE Campaign said the campaign has been successful.
The rationale behind this campaign is particularly to encourage young people to adopt responsible and safe healthy lifestyles. We have realised that HIV incidence is higher amongst young people and as a result, we target them with our interventions because we hope that by reaching out to them, we will reduce the HIV incidence within the country,” said Delight.
The CONDOMIZE Campaign was launched in November 2015 at the ICASA that was also held in Harare and the campaigns have been hosted since 2015 to date in different communities mainly targeting communities which are hotspots for HIV incidence. The campaign runs in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), SAYWHAT and other partners that program within the area of comprehensive condom programs.
“As part of the CONDOMISE campaign, we have what we call edutainment activities. These are activities where we don’t only provide information but we also do it in a fun and cool way. We have also what we call the Art area. We have realised that there is a lot of stigma that is associated with condoms. Even if you are to go to the shops, it’s not easy for you to access condoms because everyone will look at you with a discriminatory or stigmatising eye.”
The condomise campaign makes pieces of art to break the stigma associated with condoms and this includes condom dresses, condom earrings, condom crowns, and condom backpacks with the idea to make people feel comfortable with talking about condoms as one of the HIV prevention strategies.
Amongst the young people who visited the CONDOMIZE stand was Kelly Makura, a young woman living with a disability who was happy to have received her pack of condoms and a demonstration on how to use condoms correctly.
“I am a person with a disability and I have come to ICASA we are learning a lot about condoms and we have learned how to use condoms and how it is important for a person with a disability to protect during sex. It is simply because there are two things you are protecting that is HIV, STIs and pregnancy,” said Kelly.