HIV/Aids activists in Masaka have launched a campaign to popularize the use of female condoms to stem the high prevalence HIV rates and sexually transmitted diseases. The campaign targets among others Dimmo, Namirembe, Mumpu, Kindu and Malembo landing sites among other fishing communities around Lake Victoria.
The intervention stems from reports that the HIV Prevalence on the landing sites has jumped from 13% to 17%, almost triple the national prevalence rate, which stands at 6%. Joseph Kazibwe, an official with Kyanamukaka Community Development says much as several organizations such as Kitovu Mobile Aids organization, Uganda Cares and Masaka Hospital have intensified aids care and prevention intervention campaigns to prevent the scourge, they have realized these areas still register new infections.
Kazibwe says despite the fact that government distributes male condoms to these landing sites as one of the ways to prevent new infections and unwanted pregnancies, fishermen do not use them. As a result, they have decided to popularize female condoms targeting women and teenagers. Kazibwe says they are carrying out door to door campaigns teaching women how to use the female condoms effectively.
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Sister Mary Ssenyonga, a nursing officer at Kyanamukaka health centre IV says there are many new cases of HIV AIDS and sexually transmitted infections because many adults don’t use condoms. She says least four out of ten people who visit the health center test positive for HIV AIDS or STIs.
She says their investigations show that men do not use condoms, which has fueled the spread of HIV AIDS. Sister Ssenyonga says as a result, there is need to intensify and popularize the use of female condoms to empower women to take control of their lives.
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several women interviewed by Uganda Radio Network expressed ignorance about female condoms. Some of the women who knew about the female condoms said they are uncomfortable.
Harriet Kirungi, a resident of Tekera village in Buwunga Sub County has welcomed the introduction of female condoms in the area.
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Several health centres such as Kyanamukaka health centre, Buwunga health centre III and Masaka Municipal health centre are stuck with male condoms after they were rejected by the fishing communities.
However, none of the health centers has stocked female condoms. Godfrey Kayemba, the Mayor Masaka municipality says they only receive male condoms, which he says are not distributed in time due to lack of man power.