In commemoration of 2023 International Condom Day, stakeholders have called for the correct and consistent use of condoms for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and unwanted pregnancy.
The call was made on Monday, in Abuja, in commemoration of the 2023 International Condom Day (ICD) Organised by AIDS HealthCare Foundation (AHF), in collaboration with various key stakeholders.
The stakeholders among which are NACA, UNFPA, Education as a Vaccine, Association of Positive Youths (APYIN), Society for Family Health, among others.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ICD which is celebrated annually on Feb. 13, in conjunction with Valentine’s Day has its 2023 theme “Always in Fashion”.
Dr. Echey Ijezie, AHF Nigeria Country Program Director said ICD was celebrated every year to ensure awareness was raised about the use and importance of condoms in view to reducing STI’s and unwanted pregnancies around the world.
Ijezie said the day was focused on a lot of creativity among adolescents and young people to raise awareness, demystifying stigma and misinformation on condom use.
“AHF have been commemorating ICD since 2009 and this is our 14th year.
“Over the years condoms have played a significant role in reducing STI’s and unwanted pregnancies and it has contributed significantly in no small measure in reducing these infections and the reduction of unwanted pregnancies.
“So it’s a message we propagate, it’s a message we teach and it’s a message we want everyone to use,’’ he said.
Dr Einne Okey-Uchendu, Assistant Director NACA, said ICD was set aside to create awareness on correct and consistent use of condoms among young people who cannot abstain from sexual activities to protect themselves.
“NACA implements programmes on comprehensive effective condom programming, we provide condom awareness on different activities especially for young and unmarried people because there is a high rate of HIV infection among young people.
“We are also using the social media platforms so they have information on condom programmes like where to get condoms and how to use them correctly.
“Tomorrow is Valentine ’s Day and a lot of people try to show love by having sex, my message to everyone is love wisely, engage in safe sex and protect yourself by using condoms correctly,’’ she added.
Ms Oluwkemi Gbadamosi, Director for advocacy and Marketing for Africa Bureau AHF, said ICD was an innovative way of promoting safer sex awareness and the importance of condom use.
Gbadamosi said condoms still remained critical and the only prevention tool for STI’s and unwanted pregnancy adding that people should not be ashamed or afraid to use them.
“ ICD is strategically positioned on Feb.13, the day before Valentine’s Day.
“This is because we know that on valentine day there is a lot of conversation around expressing love in different forms which includes sexual activities.
“At AHF, we say regardless of how you choose to express yourself, with your loved ones, it is important to remember that the act of protecting yourself is an expression of love,’’ she said.
Speaking on awareness on condoms use, Gbadamosi mentioned that a condom culture survey conducted recently by AHF showed that Nigerians perception on condoms use was highly influenced by culture and religion.
“We still have high rate of infections particularly among young peoples, a lot of misconceptions about the use, were some people feel when they use condoms they do not enjoy sex, but that is wrong.
“People still have pleasurable sex, even with the use of condoms, also some people believe if a woman ask for condom , it means she is promiscuous , not realising that she is protecting herself and her partner.
She, however, called for the need to educate pharmacies, supermarkets and chemist shops in rural communities on encouraging people to freely purchase condoms and not feel judged.
Mr Edoko Philips Programme Assistant, Education as a Vaccine, said the Day was set aside to engage young people in a fun and lively way, to ensure the message of practicing safe sex was promoted.
“Young people have a way to show love which can easily translate to having sex. So the day is for people to understand safe sex, how to use condoms and how to access the commodity.
“Statistics released in 2022 of state of the world population report by UNFPA, stated that over 2.5million teenage pregnancies were recorded which means young people are engaging in sexual intercourse.
“As much as we preach abstinence, from the statistics, it is difficult for them to abstain and we will not sit back and allow young people to lose their lives.
“Whereby they have unintended pregnancies that can lead to unsafe abortion and contacting HIV and STI’s.
He further encouraged young people to abstain from sexual activities hence practice safe sex by using condoms if they can’t.
Joy Oboyi Girls Act AHF Nigeria, said there was a need to make available appropriate messaging for all young person’s raging from teenagers and those transitioning to become adults.
“We have to pass out information that cut across abstinence, saying yes to sex when ready, and teaching comprehensive sexuality education.
“This is important because when young persons are faced with the problem of `a guy is asking me out and i do not know what to do’?
“Communication skills become important so they can make informed decisions and are able to negotiate safe sex with their partners,’’ Oboyi said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)