When one thinks of products that are delivered secretly, they might imagine a drug dealer meeting their client in the driveway. In Kenya, one businesswoman is traveling far and wide, delivering products packaged up in discreet black bags. However, the contents inside are far from legal – they can actually be bought over the counter.
After losing some of her friends to AIDS, Faith Ndiwa decided to launch a condom delivery service with the hopes of tackling the disease. According to an article on the BBC, Ndiwa stated that many of her friends died of AIDS because they decided not to use condoms. According to BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza, sex continues to be a “taboo” subject in Kenya – many people are embarassed to be seen buying condoms in public because they might be judged as “sexually promiscuous.” With this in mind, Ndiwa is putting matters into her own hands and, with the help of a team of 15 employees, delivering $3.50 packets containing three condoms to nearly 4,000 clients across Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, along with the towns of Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.
HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus – is a virus that, unlike the common cold, the human immune system can’t get rid of over time. The virus attacks a key part of the human’s immune system, the t-cells, which are in your body to fight infections and diseases. Once HIV takes over, it uses the T-cells to make more copies of itself, and goes on to destroy them. AIDS – Acquired Immuno Dificiency Syndrome, is the final stage of HIV infection. People at this stage have very damaged immune systems, putting them at risk for opportunistic infections. If AIDS patients don’t seek medical treatment, they will die.
As of 2012, UNAIDS reported that nearly 1,600,000 people were living with HIV in the country of Kenya, with 1,400,000 of these individuals being adults aged 15 and up. An average of 57,000 people die of this problem, and nearly 1,000,000 children are orphans because of it. HIV, and subsequently AIDS, is a major problem in Kenya, and with numbers this big, an even harder problem arises when trying to figure out a solution to slimming down the deadly statistics that this disease brings.
While HIV can be spread in various ways through sexual contact, pregnancy, injected drug use, and blood transfusions and organ transplants, many countries, such as Kenya, are working to combat the rapid spread of this disease through attempting to change their sexual habits. Many people, organizations, and even countries have attempted to promote abstinence, a practice that will not interfere with the position of the Catholic Church’s disapproval of condoms. This support has worked, but some claim that there may be more methods in working to reduce the number of HIV victims.
If abstinence is not the answer, safer sexual practices is the next best thing. That’s why many people have joined in recognizing International Condom Day, an informal annual celebration hosted on February 13 in honor of safer sex. Through this day, not only is safer sex promoted, but married couples are encouraged to remain faithful and monogamous with their partners, and unmarried individuals are encouraged to abstain or use condoms to protect both themselves and their loved one.
One campaign that is working to promote safer practices of sexual intercourse is the LOVE Condoms Campaign. This movement is an initiative created by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) with the purpose of promoting access, usage and acceptance of condoms as a “vital component” of global AIDS control and awareness. This past Valentines day, the LOVE Condoms Campaign hosted events in cities such as San Francisco, New York City, Las Vegas, Dallas, Charlotte and Atlanta. Globally, the Campaign hosted events in New Delhi, Cambodia, Lithuania, Mexico, Swaziland, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and more.
There is no easy way out of this epidemic, but one method of prevention is the practice of safe sex through the use of condoms. If just two people can express their love for one another by using a condom and preventing the spread of a deadly disease, future offspring, as well as future sexual partners, will be less likely to pick up the disease through childbirth or sexual intercourse.
Cover photo courtesy of East Africa.