Prevention first – not only on International Condom Day

SANTIAGO – Over 31 countries around the globe celebrate International Condom Day. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation created this day to promote the use of condoms. In Chile, which is suffering an AIDS epidemic, this day carries special weight.

On February 13 is International Condom Day in over 30 countries, including Chile. The day has been on the agenda since 2012, even though it is not recognized by the World Health Organization.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) created the day to “promote the responsible use of the condom [and] to avoid the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).” Most activities of the day are carried out in Africa and Latin America, due to the high indexes of STDs, mainly HIV, on these continents.

An alarming situation

Chile has recently experienced a worrying rise in STD infections, specifically HIV. National authorities are concerned about this development and focus on education about condom use to end this crisis.

UNAIDS published a report in December 2018 in which Chile figures among the 10 countries with the highest HIV increase. The Institute of Public Health (ISP) indicated that between 2010 and 2017 confirmed cases grew by 96% among the group of 15-19-year-olds.

UNAIDS: HIV epidemic in Chile far from over

Also, according to AHF Chile, only 14% of men use condoms frequently. At the same time, only 20.8% of respondents said they use a condom almost always, while 26% admitted to almost never using a condom.

In an interview with news company BíoBío Chile, the coordinator of AHF Chile, Leonardo Arenas, said that the condom is seen only as a contraceptive to avoid pregnancy, so STD prevention takes a back seat. He added that officials “should look for other ways to call for prevention,” because apparently condoms aren’t normally the primary choice to prevent diseases.

Helping ideas

But not everything is bad news. In Valparaíso started the “Valpo te apaña” (Valpo is with you) campaign. As part of the campaign, the city’s first condom dispenser has been installed at Rodoviario bus station. Condoms will cost CLP$200 (US$0.30) per piece at the dispenser.

According to the Municipal Corporation of Valparaíso “27% of young people [in] high school have sex, and only 4% say they do it ‘always with a condom.’”  Mónica Riveros, Deputy Director of Technical Management and Health Quality in Valparaíso said that the dispenser should enable “access to condoms in the most massive way possible.”

A safe Valentine

AHF Chile picked February 13 because it is just before Valentine’s Day, when, presumably, sexual relationships play a major role.

According to a study by condom producer Trojan Chile, condom sales increase 30% on that day and 24% of all purchases are made by females.

[VIDEO] Chilean youth affected by national HIV epidemic

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