Call for more access to female condoms

1 December 2011

More access to female condoms, protection of commercial sex workers, and provision of HIV information for rural women were some of the requests given to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as South Africa marked World Aids Day on Thursday.

Various organisations, including traditional leaders and women and men’s organisations in KwaZakhele near Port Elizabeth got an opportunity to voice their concerns and requests on what they want to see in the country’s new National Strategic Plan for HIV/Aids 2012-2016.

President Jacob Zuma was due to unveil the new plan later on Thursday.

Sex workers complain of harassment

Commercial sex workers complained to Motlanthe that they were harassed by police officers, and urged the government to intervene to ensure their protection.

A women’s group asked for more access to free female condoms so that they would not have to negotiate the use of condoms with their partners.

Motlanthe said the government would take up the issue of harassment with the law enforcement units, but emphasised that it was important for sex workers to have access to health services, including counselling and testing.

‘We also support programmes for men’

“The programme will also include truck drivers, as it is important for them as well to get these services. We also encourage men to accompany their partners when they go and get tested so that they won’t become victims of HIV/Aids,” Motlanthe said, adding that the government supported programmes for both men and women.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi noted that most of the issues raised by the community were being taken care of in the new plan.

“Even before the development of the new plan, we had already instructed all hospital CEOs that when raped woman come to the health care institutions, they must receive help first and ask legal issues after,” Motsoaledi.

“We’ve also agreed to accelerate the distribution of female condoms from one- to six-million.

School Health Programme

“We are still committing ourselves to ensure that by April next year, we will launch the School Health Programme, and about 400 retired nurses have already come forwarded and registered on our database and are prepared to work in the schools.”

Motsoaledi thanked the country’s traditional leaders for working in partnership with the government to address issues around traditional male circumcision.

One of the community members said she was satisfied with the response by Motlanthe and Motsoaledi, especially on the issue of more access to female condoms.

“Sometimes it is difficult to negotiate condom use with your men, and having your own condom will save a lot of lives because one doesn’t have to tell her partner but just put it on,” she said.

“The government is trying. The issue of HIV and Aids is challenging because it depends on each one to take responsibility,” said the woman, a 29-year-old who is on antiretroviral treatment and has been living with HIV for more than 10 years.

Source: BuaNews