Wednesday 9th April , 2014 8:30 am
A recent survey has revealed condoms are being used by food vendors who use charcoal and firewood to set fire.
The survey was conducted by a team from the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Medical School in the Western, Ashanti and Northern regions. It also emerged that condoms have other uses that are competing with the conventional use for sex against Sexually Transmitted Diseases, (STDs) and also to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
There are indications that large numbers of male condoms are being patronized, and stakeholders are excited this could boost the fight against the spread of HIV. But this may not be yielding any results since there are other unconventional uses for them.
Ashanti Regional Director of the AIDS Control Programme, Dr. Agyako Poku, who was part of the team that conducted the survey, told Ultimate Radio the oil substance in the condom easily ignites fire than a normal paper or other flammable substances, hence the preference by food vendors who use charcoal or firewood for cooking.
“Those who cook in commercial quantities especially put two or three condoms on their charcoal instead of kerosene or a paper which can take longer to ignite. The condom is oily and so it can set the fire easily. So they buy them and use them to set fire instead of using them for sexual activities,” he divulged.
It also emerged that condoms have other uses that are competing with the conventional use for sex against STDs and also to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
“Women in rural communities are found to be using the female condoms for earrings. We have also gathered that some people put on condoms when going to swim in swimming pools for fear that they may get infections. Some farmers also put on condoms especially the fishermen and those who work in river bodies because they say they fear to get infections when they get into such waters” he revealed with shock.
Dr. Agyako Poku is worried the huge number of condoms that have been distributed creating the impression that Ghana was winning the fight against HIV/AIDS, could be a fallacy considering that substantial numbers of the condoms are now being diverted for other purposes.
“Indeed if it is found to be true that this is being used in large quantities for other purposes, then we have to be very careful in our calculations so that anytime you sell ten thousand condoms you shouldn’t boast that it is going to support the HIV/AIDS prevention programme. If this is being done on a large scale, then we are in trouble” he alarmed.
He indicates that checking and controlling the alternative use of the substance would be quite challenging as “you cannot ask people what they are going to do with condom considering that everyone knows what condoms are used for and the shyness people exhibit with divulging some of these things”.
Dr. Agyako Poku however gave assurances that the next stage of the survey would be targeting the exact people and places where some of these activities take place.
He is of the firm conviction that getting to the people involved in this will help them educate and sensitize them but indicates that his outfit cannot do much beyond just talking to them.