AUTHORITIES say they are going to increase the availability of free condoms to the public this festive season, as part of the government’s continuing fight against sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), the Daily News reports.
The Blue Panther condoms, popularly referred to as maDembare — due to their packet colour, which resembles that of the country’s most popular football club, Dynamos — are available for free in public toilets and nightspots.
The provincial manager of the National Aids Council (Nac) in Mashonaland West, David Nyamurera, told the Daily News yesterday that they were ramping up the distribution of free condoms this festive season.
“We are going to provide more free condoms for the festive season, as we know that it is a time when people engage more in sexual activities as they celebrate the holidays.
“We are going to try to make sure that there will be no shortages,” he said.
On allegations that “maDeMbare” condoms were being looted in places such as Sanyati, Nyamurera urged the public to report such cases to the Nac .
“Sometimes we are not even aware of what will be happening. People need to communicate with us when they are not seeing free condoms and we will provide them.
“The problem is that sometimes people do not communicate with us when they no longer see the condoms where we place them, and so we wouldn’t know of the situation,” he also said.
Nyamurera added that Sanyati was among the hardest hit districts in Mashonaland West, where an estimated 20 000 people were living with HIV — a figure he said represented nearly 10 percent of the district’s entire population.
Sanyati is teeming with artisanal miners who have migrated there looking for gold.
Zimbabwe currently has between 1,4 million and 1,6 million people living with HIV/Aids.
This comes as HIV infections among minors in the country has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic — which has made it difficult for pregnant women living with the disease from accessing antenatal service.
This also comes after the government launched an ambitious US$103 million, five-year HIV-testing strategy three years ago — to raise the number of people who know their status in a bid to build on the progress which has been made in the past decade, which saw new HIV infections in the country falling by 50 percent.
The testing strategy is part of the government’s efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 target — which seeks to have 90 percent of all people with HIV know their status, 90 percent of diagnosed people being on treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment having suppressed levels of the virus in their bodies by the end of this year.
This comes amid reports of looting of the freely-distributed condoms by some people, who are accused of selling them.