Promotion of Condom Usage and Safe Sexual Practices in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s population of 168 million is the largest in Africa. Unfortunately, they also have one of the highest HIV/AIDS burdens on the African continent, with nearly 3.4 million people currently living with HIV/AIDS.  The Nigerian government first began to take action against this escalating epidemic with the development of its first National HIV/AIDS Strategic plan entitled HEAP (HIV/AIDS Emergency Action Plan) in 2000, but the epidemic continues unabated.  Two factors contribute in part to the failure of this domestic policy. The first is due to shortcomings in the promotion of condom usage and their distribution.  The second is due to current Sexual and Health Reproductive (SRH) policies that do not incorporate HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT).

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Repeated surveys show that a large number of men and women do not use a condom. Some don’t use condoms because they are not allowed to use any form of birth control by their religion; many women also claim they would like their partners to use condoms but just are not able to make them do so. Few have heard of female condoms but even those who have must fight against cultural taboos to use them.

Improved government funded messaging regarding condom use, with involvement of social and religious leaders, isimportant to protecting Nigeria’s future from HIV. This can be supplemented by systemic changes integrating counseling into SRH services. Currently, the two are very separated, with HCT being provided for free and SRH requiring a nominal payment. Even though the payment of SRH services is minimal, it might deter individuals from seeking services. If we do not change our beliefs and behavior, the dream of a great Nigeria can be stolen.

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2 Responses to “Promotion of Condom Usage and Safe Sexual Practices in Nigeria”

  1. kygahagan Says:

    Great post. I can’t help but notice how several of the issues discussed have a common denominator. It seems much of the condom-use shortcomings stem from lack of appropriate education. I think in order to influence change among those that are culturally opposed to condoms due to religion, there must be a collaboration between government officials and community leaders. Educating community leaders will allow local leaders to teach members of the community around them and encourage safer sex practices.

  2. jayagups Says:

    Your blog post does a great job of capturing the complexities of tackling a pressing public health concern, HIV/AIDs, while also facing the challenges of long standing resistance to family planning. As you wrote, there are a number of changes from adoption of family planning at the individual level to policy reform regarding treatment at a national level. Not to mention, family planning programs are greatly influenced by conditionalities linked to bilateral funding or from some international donors. Linked closely to this is an issue that you addressed regarding women’s agency in Nigeria and their right to make decisions about their body.

    An article by Crosby et al. (2003) suggests that to improve condom use among high-risk african american female teens a number of interventions can be considered. Programs should focus on reducing barriers to condom use, improving partner communication, and developing a positive peer environment for condom use. While this is context specific, I would believe these techniques might possibly work in Nigeria. Additionally, I imagine that condom use would increase with increased awareness about the negative consequences of unsafe sex. Therefore, increasing awareness activities around HIV/AIDs, STIs, and unplanned pregnancy might improve condom use.

    Article link: http://tinyurl.com/lu99vvp

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