Botswana, PSI Distribute 60M Condoms; PSI Plans Initiative To Curb Spread of HIV, Alcohol Abuse
The government of Botswana, along with Population Services International, has distributed almost 60 million condoms in the country during the past two years in an attempt to scale up the fight against HIV/AIDS, Mmegi reports.
PSI technical manager Diana Gourvenec, at the launch of PSI's Interpersonal Communication for HIV Prevention program in Botshabelo on Tuesday, said the organization helped the government distribute 50 million no-cost condoms and sold nine million of its own condom brand throughout Botswana. The program will focus on providing information about proper condom use, avoiding multiple partners and curbing alcohol abuse, and it already has targeted the areas of Selebi-Phikwe, Mahalapye and Palapye, Gourvenec said.
According to Mmegi, the project will target people ages 15 to 49 and has called on local groups to spread messages of how to prevent HIV transmission. In addition, PSI plans to start training peer educators for the project in October. PSI also intends to use mass media to spread information about the initiative. Gourvenec added that research into other factors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS besides a lack of condom use is needed.
Kavis Kario, a member of Parliament from Selebi-Phikwe West, said the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among sexually active people in the country is troublesome because it challenges efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Kario said there is a need for enhanced advocacy to create coalitions that will research populations at an increased risk of HIV and called on nongovernmental organizations to work with partners at the district level.
Kario urged Selebi-Phikwe residents to take advantage of the PSI program, adding that there is evidence of a relationship between alcohol use and HIV transmission. "Alcohol abuse is our No.1 enemy in the fight against HIV," Kario said, adding that the efforts of President Ian Khama to fight such use should be supported. "We have to support the president because there is serious alcohol abuse in the country," Kario said. He added that the PSI initiative would fill a gap in the country's HIV/AIDS interventions (Dube, Mmegi, 9/26).