Condom Remains King

THERE is no doubt consistent and proper usage of condoms among sexually active males is the most effective weapon in the fight against HIV infection.

Condoms are double-edged – if not more – because they are very effective against unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. And they protect against a host of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) namely, syphilis, gonorrhoea and genital herpes among others.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services spent N$20 million to procure 33 million condoms of which 27 million have already been distributed.

Similarly the same number of condoms was distributed in Namibia last year to contain HIV infections.

Equally gratifying is the fact the number of female condoms being distributed has also increased, resulting in the HIV prevalence rate among women in the age group 15 to 24 decreasing to 8.8 percent. The fact the overall HIV prevalence rate that in 2002 had increased to 22.1 percent dropped to 18.1 percent in 2012, which is simply praiseworthy.

Heterosexual intercourse – involving men and women is the primary mode of HIV infection in Namibia. There are many factors that contribute to the spread of the HIV virus of which the most notable are alcohol abuse, poverty, inequality and sexual violence.

Though the focus seems to have diminished and the issue regarding HIV seems to have taken a back seat in recent years, because of life-prolonging ARV therapy this virus continues to exact untold grief.

By this time everyone should know HIV is a virus that destroys the immune system of the body and when the body’s immune system is compromised it means the body can no longer fight off opportunistic germs and diseases that attack it on a daily basis. While STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital herpes, human papilloma virus (HPV) are curable the HIV virus remains a different kettle of fish and to this day there is no known cure for this complex virus.

It is only with the proper use of contraceptives such as condoms – and to a lesser degree by abstinence that we can prevent the spread of the HIV virus. Apart from distributing condoms for free the Ministry of Health and Social Services has also made great inroads towards an HIV-free generation. In this regard the ministry has introduced the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT). This programme involves expectant mothers who are HIV-positive and are given doses of antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis so that they can deliver HIV-negative babies. PMTCT drastically reduces paediatric HIV infections. It is worth pointing out that without PMTCT thousands of these babies would die prematurely.

One of the major benefits of PMTCT is the fact it decreases the burden on households and the health system by decreasing the number of children who are HIV positive and saves millions of Namibian dollars.

This piece will be incomplete if we do not mention the fact Namibia is one of the African countries that distribute free life-prolonging ARV drugs to HIV patients. Namibia has come a long way from the days when an HIV diagnosis was akin to a death sentence and in this vein kudos to the ministry of health, because they deserve a pat on the back for a job well done. In the absence of a known cure for HIV the condom should be the weapon of choice against HIV.

Source : New Era