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Activists Urge Women to Use Female Condoms in HIV Fight

Zimbabwe on Monday marked Global Female Condom Day with calls on local women to use the condom as it is the only woman-initiated protection against sexually transmitted infections, including the dreaded HIV.

There are complaints in Zimbabwe that the female condom is expensive and not user friendly. But HIV/AIDS activists say women have no option if they are to protect themselves against killer diseases. They are urging women to use the female condom as it is the only tool they can control to protect themselves from infections.

Women and AIDS Support Network executive director, Mary Sandasi, says it’s unfortunate that the female condom is not as popular as the male condom.

HIV/AIDS activist, Tendai Kateketa, said resources were spent in lobbying for the female condom, adding women should practice to use it for their own protection.

Another activist, Loice Ngwenya of Harare, said a number of commercial sex workers are now using the female condom in the City to protect themselves from killer diseases and sexually transmitted infections.

But Bulawayo East lawmaker Tabitha Khumalo maintains the condom is not user friendly and wants the health and child welfare ministry to address the issue.

Speaking during an HIV/AIDS, human rights and law workshop in Harare recently, health ministry director responsible for AIDS and tuberculosis, Dr. Owen Mugurungi, said the government had raised the issues with the company that manufactures the condom but there has been no response.

Sandasi said their other concern is that the female condom is more expensive than male condoms yet women constitute the majority of the poor in Zimbabwe.

"It is sad that this is the only way that women can protect themselves and yet they make it more expensive than the male condoms," said Sandasi. "We have to take it up with the authorities."

Female condoms cost on average one dollar per five while male condoms cost a dollar for 30.

The Global Female Condom Day is an annual campaign to help raise awareness and educate the populace about the importance of female condoms and their use.