World AIDS Day

HIV/AIDS is one of the leading killers of adults worldwide. The virus weakens the immune system and ultimately leads to death.

HIV transmission can occur in three ways: (i) sexual intercourse; (ii) exposure to infected blood; or (iii) mother to child transmission through birth or breast milk.

Sexual transmission is the primary transmission mechanism worldwide, and accounts for more than 90% of infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

Condoms can prevent infection by reducing the likelihood of transmission during sexual intercourse.

Condom promotion, through education, counseling and advertising, encourages the use of condoms. Condom distribution makes condoms readily available to individuals either for free or at highly subsidized prices.

Condoms effectively prevent HIV transmission through sexual intercourse when used rightly.

While the use of condoms has been presented in Africa as one of the cheapest most effective means of controlling the disease and preventing infection, certain values inherent in African culture have made condom distribution a less than perfect means for controlling the spread of the virus.

Some of the cultural barriers to condom use in African is the believe that condom prevents reproduction. (Fertility is seen as proving the virility of men, and demonstrating the value of women as wives). These pressures usually create barriers to condom acceptance.

Many women avoid using condoms because they are associated with promiscuity and prostitutes. Conversely, men who use condoms offend women because the women assume he doesn't trust them.

Not only is the use of condoms often received negatively in Africa, there is a negative association of AIDS with prostitutes and promiscuity.

As the world celebrates another world AIDS day, African must wake up to its reality and work towards "Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination".

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This article has been read 554 times. Photo credits: Nelson Ikheafe.