Condom Use in Rwanda Hampered by Stigma, Unavailability in Remote Areas, Officials Say
The low rate of condom use in Rwanda is primarily the result of stigma and a lack of access in remote areas of the country, officials said in the capital of Kigali during the launch of the final phase of an awareness campaign that aims to reduce the spread of HIV, the New Times/AllAfrica.com reports.
According to statistics from Population Services International, Rwanda imports about 14 million condoms annually. However, the supply does not meet the demand, especially in villages, according to Rwanda's National HIV/AIDS Control Commission Deputy Executive Secretary Antoine Semukanya. "People in villages are complaining that the condoms we supply are not enough; that is why we continue increasing our imports to meet the demand," Semukanya said. He added that condoms are used primarily by people living in villages.
The Witegereza campaign, themed "Teach Me How To Use a Condom," aims to increase awareness among youth about condom use and reproductive health issues, the Times/AllAfrica.com reports. The campaign will run for six months using radio and about 200 billboards to spread awareness. Minister of Health Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo said that every Rwandan should be educated about condoms. Condom use reduces the spread of HIV and unintended pregnancies, Ntawukuriryayo said, adding, "Buying a condom shouldn't be a shame to anyone." Ntawukuriryayo said that although the campaign is targeted at youth, some adults also need more knowledge about condom use.
National HIV/AIDS Control Commission Executive Secretary Agnes Binagwaho said that previous messages included in the campaign have made a great impact in Rwanda. She added that the commission is looking at how to extend similar campaigns after the project is completed (Musoni, New Times/AllAfrica.com, 3/12).