'Condom use still very low across 16 and above age group'

The South African HIV Prevalence, Incidents, Behaviour and Communication Survey is produced annually by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC). It looks at the sexual safety practices of South Africans.

Director at the HIV/STI and TB Human Sciences Research Council Dr. Mpumi Zungu spoke to Africa Melane about the findings.

She says the government distributes millions of female and male condoms annually, and people receive them at no cost.

People have a choice of what they need to do, and based on what we saw in 2012 we began to worry about condom use...and we have come up with other initiatives to improve condoms like the introducing Max condom.

Dr Mpumi Zungu, Director of HIV/STI and TB - Human Sciences Research Council

We are hoping that the investment that we have made in terms of awareness and also in terms of providing these condoms will lead to people using condoms.

Dr Mpumi Zungu, Director of HIV/STI and TB - Human Sciences Research Council

She pins the current statistics for condom use at 38.9%, a slight improvement from 36, 2% in 2012.

But it is still very low across the population that is 16 and above age group.

Dr Mpumi Zungu, Director of HIV/STI and TB - Human Sciences Research Council

She outlines some reasons people do not use condoms.

Often when one is in a relationship, people start to think that they don't have to use a condom, assuming that their partner is faithful.

Dr Mpumi Zungu, Director of HIV/STI and TB - Human Sciences Research Council

There is an issue of fear she says, where age and power dynamics in relationships mitigate against condom use known as the 'blesser' dynamic.

These are the relationships where people sometimes exchange money for sex and the dominant partner refuses to use a condom.

Dr Mpumi Zungu, Director of HIV/STI and TB - Human Sciences Research Council

She says mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol also often result in a lack of condom use.

A belief that condoms reduce feelings of sexual intimacy and physical sensation are further reasons, she adds.

People who are married or in long relationships are less likely to use condoms.

Dr Mpumi Zungu, Director of HIV/STI and TB - Human Sciences Research Council

She says there is a peak in the age group of 15-24 of sexually transmitted diseases with new infections and HIV prevalence.

Circumcision in men has increased, a step helping to bring down transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

From where we were sitting in 2012, we have increased the number of men who are circumcised. So those are positive things.

Dr Mpumi Zungu, Director of HIV/STI and TB - Human Sciences Research Council

She implores HIV positive people to get help, saying treatment is available.

Click below to listen to the full interview:


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