Condom Use Remains Constant


The level of condom use in Jamaica has remained constant over the last six to 10 years, with 70 per cent of men and women reported using condoms when last having intercourse.
Speaking to JIS News, Behaviour Change Communication Officer for the National HIV/STI Programme in the Ministry of Health and Environment, Carla Moore said that this was a “good thing,” as there has been no fall off throughout those years.
However, she admitted that while the level of use has been high, there was a realization that the remaining 30 per cent required targeted interventions. “We have to be addressing what we need to do to really get these persons to use condoms. The first thing you have to do is figure out who they are,” she noted.
Miss Moore disclosed that there was an increase in the number of persons requesting HIV tests, which she remarked was “really excellent,” as this was one of the main steps of stemming the spread of HIV. “Having persons know their status so that they can take the necessary steps, whether it may be treatment or otherwise, helps to reinforce the need to practise safer sex,” she pointed out.
It is against this background that Safer Sex Week (February 11 to 16) will be observed under the theme, ‘Condom is a mus’. Know yu’ status’.
According to Miss Moore, the theme reflected a two-part focus, which is to continue to promote correct and consistent condom use and also to promote HIV testing. Another focus, while not reflected in the theme, is empowerment, which is a continuation of the emphasis on last year’s World AIDS Day in December.
For this year, the national activities will be confined to Portmore, St. Catherine and this involves community outreaches. On February 14 and 15, personnel from the Ministry of Health and Environment will be in Gregory Park and Braeton, from noon to 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 to 8:00 p.m., respectively.
“At these events we will offering free HIV testing, in addition to inviting empowerment organizations such as HEART Trust/NTA, Women’s Centre, Children First and National Council on Drug Abuse. These are organizations that offer tangible services that persons can use to empower and better themselves,” she informed. Miss Moore said that over the years, the observation of the week has been very effective in promoting condom use and safer sex, as it includes Valentine’s Day, which happens to be a day when persons are particularly amorous with one another. Observation of the week was first started in 1994, because the Ministry of Health saw the need for increased emphasis on the message of protection during sexual activity. By dedicating a week of activities, the Ministry has been able to reach a large number of people with the message of safer sex.

JIS Social