The use of male condom according to NYC condom programme if properly used is 95-98 % effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and AIDS. In Kenya, contrary to popular belief, only 40 percent of sexually active youth consistently and properly use condoms, says Susan Ihuthia, Peer Education Programme, Kenya Red Cross Society. In North Eastern Kenya, the story is even more surprising! some communities don’t know about it at all at all, while areas where people know about it a bit, men use one as many times (re-use)as possible. Health Correspondent Malachi Motano tells the story
Paul Kihohia is 52 years of age, and lives in Shambani, a small Turkana village of about 4000 people in the giant Isiolo County. The old man is the Sub- area (equivalent to a chief in their local administration)
“I have lived here since I was born. In this village we don’t know what you mean when you say ‘condom’ if at all it is anything to help prevent the disease that living in town call AIDS, then it is must be that only-very few people in Isiolo town who know about it.”
Albino Kitela is also a sub-area in the neighboring LPB (not abbreviations) village. In this village which has a population of 6000 people, they know of male condom, and that it is used for the prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS but still face another challenge.
“Because we are far from town, condoms don’t reach as when they are being distributed. Infact, It has now taken about three months since we last so an NGO called Nomadic camel transfer (NCT) using their camels to distribute condoms in health centres. Today there is not even anybody with condom. I can even ask you to visit any of the condom dispensers introduced earlier by the government at the social centres if at all you will ever get any.”
What then is the way forward? Augustine Moto (the colleagues nicknamed him fire) is the Voice of the youth in this LPB village that forms Samburu.
The 26 years old gentleman says, “We thank God that after a very long time, we finally learnt that there is condom, an alternative tool to prevent HIV infection. therefore nowadays when I meet a girl and I feel like spending with her, I will always use condom. There is scarcity of condoms in this area so we have resorted to ‘saving’ the few that we get. For example after I finish with one, I wash it, let it dry, dip it in camel Salad – fats we produce from the milk of our camels, then I preserve it for use-next time.”
Isiolo County is a large county that bring together, different communities like The Samburu, Turkana, Borana, Somali among others. This mixture is composed of different cultures and traditions.
The area Member of Parliament Mohamed Kuti says some of their traditions don’t allow them to add an extra instrument for example the condom when one the couples make love.
“This is where we call for thorough and urgent health education, just like before the recent promulgation of the new constitution the country conducted civic education.”
On the scarcity of the instrument Doctor Kiriga, the one in charge for the Government’s HIV/AIDS programme in the district admits that indeed there is a great shortage not only in Isiolo, but also the rest of the country.
“Although condom shortage currently is a national crisis, this does not mean that people to start re-using of condoms. It is unhealthy for the person re-using it. It is so embarrassing that some members of the youth go ahead and use polythene papers that are used to rap ice-cream after lubricating it with camel salad. Even biologically it does not satisfy a woman.”
Amina Halima a Somali girl admits that there is no romantic satisfaction when they use these unscrupulous devices.
“I am a victim of these improvised sexual gadgets. My boy friend insists in using the ice- sachets in me. There is no real love or satisfaction at all at all. It’s only that we don’t have an option. we had been advised not to make unprotected sex. So we just force ourselves to use them.
The area Member of Parliament who is also a government Minister is now asking the ministry of education in collaboration with that of public health and sanitation to extend AIDS education to communities in addition to its recent introduction into the school curriculum to help reach the ignorant people in the entire villages.
“Although the government had introduced HIV in the primary syllabus, the there is still high levels of ignorance /illiteracy of HIV /AIDS among the pastoralists.
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