‘Moral Issues’ Surrounding Condom Promotion Hamper HIV Prevention Efforts in Zanzibar
The "moral issue[s]" surrounding condom promotion in Zanzibar are hampering efforts to reduce the spread of HIV, IRIN News reports. Although prevention efforts on the island generally follow the "ABC" model -- promoting abstinence, being faithful to one partner and using condoms -- condom use often is excluded from public awareness messages on the island, according to IRIN News. "We believe that advocating the use of condoms is promoting illegal sex, mainly among the youth," Fadhil Soraga, secretary at the office of Zanzibar's senior Muslim scholar, said, adding, "The proper campaign is A and B." Officials from Medicos Del Mundo, an international nongovernmental organization working in Zanzibar, said they have to be careful in their prevention campaigns. "We're using many ways to deliver the message to stop the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, but speaking about condoms in Zanzibar society is still very difficult," Erene Casas, MDM project coordinator in Zanzibar, said. According to Ameir Khamis, a government epidemiology and surveillance coordinator, about 8,000 people in Zanzibar currently are living with HIV/AIDS, compared with 6,000 in 2002. A 2003 government study showed that HIV prevalence was three times higher among women than men, IRIN News reports. According to Casas, other barriers to HIV prevention in Zanzibar include stigma and discrimination. A further obstacle to stemming the epidemic is the inability of many women to negotiate condom use, IRIN News reports (IRIN News, 2/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.