State condoms finally to offer ‘Choice’

WHAT is purple, grape-flavoured and soon to be found at South Africa’s universities and colleges? The new government condom. The government-branded “Choice” condom finally offers users choice.

About two million grape-flavoured, bright purple condoms will be distributed to students at tertiary institutions in the coming months.

The Department of Health and the Higher Education HIV programme HEAIDS launched the condom yesterday.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said if uptake was high, yellow banana-flavoured and red strawberry-flavoured condoms would be distributed to universities next.

Motsoaledi said the department wanted to monitor the youth’s interest in the grape condom before spending money on new flavours or textured condoms.

Focus groups conducted by the government revealed young people were not using the free ordinary Choice condom, reporting that it was “not cool”.

Dr Kevin Rebe who works at Anova NGO clinics for gay men, has long criticised the government Choice condom, calling it the “no-choice” condom. He welcomed the government’s “exciting” move yesterday.

Anova clinics offer patients condoms of different sizes and flavours, and even provide black condoms. “I believe condoms are more than just a prevention tool, they have the ability to be fun and pleasurable and enhance responsible sex,” Rebe said.

South West Gauteng College student Desmond Mudau said he was excited to try the purple condom and see if it was better than the ordinary one, but his friend, who asked not to be named, said he would rather have condoms of different sizes.

HIV clinician Harry Hausler, the chief executive of TB-HIV Care Association, said: “You need to have fun when having sex, and colours and flavours add to the fun.

“We hope this will increase young people’s use of condoms.”

Motsoaledi used the event to tell parents that teenagers at school were also having sex and parents had two options – teenage pregnancy, abortion and death, or offering contraception and condoms. “Parents do nothing and that is not an option,” he said.

-Katharine Child

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