HIV/AIDS: UNAIDS Calls For 20 Billion Condoms By 2020
By Sunday Mayowa Aroge, Abuja
Saying that every day, more than one million people acquire a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and every year there are estimated to be around 80 million unintended pregnancies, the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) has called for the production of about 20 billion condoms.
Making this call during a recent health conference organized in Geneva and monitored by our reporter via webcast, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Luiz Loures, added condoms are proven to be 98% effective in preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections, STIs and HIV.
In addition, the UNAIDS official said both male and female condoms prevent unintended pregnancies when used correctly and consistently.
Lourez continued that despite increased use of condoms over the past two decades, studies show that reported use of condoms during a person’s most recent sexual encounter with a non-regular partner ranged from 80% in some countries to less than 30% in others. He added that there was an urgent need for countries to strengthen demand for and supply of condoms and water-based lubricant.
He also called for increased investments by donors and governments for the promotion and distribution of male and female condoms in order to ensure everyone has access to condoms to protect themselves and their partners from HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancies.
“Investing in condoms saves lives. It is unacceptable that so many people are becoming infected with HIV and sexually transmitted infections because they do not have access to something as easy to use, effective and low cost as condoms.” He said.
Saying that condoms are extremely cost-effective and have made a major contribution to preventing new HIV infections, he noted that an estimated 50 million HIV infections have been averted through condom use since the 1980s.
Despite the low cost of condoms, international funding for condom procurement in sub-Saharan Africa has slowed in recent years. To achieve UNAIDS’ target of reducing new infections to fewer than 500 000 by 2020, more political commitment and increased investment in HIV prevention are needed.
He pressed further that collaborative partnerships are needed to support national efforts to encourage the use of condoms, stressing that action is also needed to increase domestic funding and private sector investment in condom distribution and promotion.