Bars get condom dispensers

Bars get condom dispensers

DAR ES SALAAM: (PlusNews) – Bars and nightclubs in several Tanzanian cities will soon have condom vending machines in the bathrooms as part of national efforts to combat HIV.

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“Our goal is to make condoms widely available to the people. The programme will start in Dar es Salaam [Tanzania’s commercial capital] before it is scaled up to various upcountry regions,” Stan Mwamaja, a ministry of health official, told IRIN/PlusNews.

Daniel Crapper, country director of Population Services International (PSI), a social marketing organisation that is implementing the project, said 100 machines would be installed in bars in the Iringa, Morogoro and Mbeya regions as part of a six-year pilot project.

Iringa and Mbeya have HIV prevalence rates more than double the national average, which dropped from a high of 7 percent in 2004 to 5.7 percent, according to the Tanzania HIV/AIDS and Malaria Indicator Survey 2007/08.

“Bars and nightclubs are high-risk areas for unsafe sex,” Crapper said. “It is for that reason we have chosen them as priority areas in our project.”

More than 121 million condoms were distributed in Tanzania in 2007, up from 59 million in 2005, but a 2008 survey by PSI found that condom stock-outs were common in many high-risk parts of the country.

Pius Rugo, an employee in Tanzania’s civil service, welcomed the vending machines. “There are many people who are shy and cannot buy condoms from shops, pharmacies, and end up doing unsafe sex,” he said. “Standing alone at a vending machine at night is a solution.”

Ali Saleh, a school teacher in Dar es Salaam, said promoting condoms was tantamount to condoning promiscuity. “People must be told to abstain from sex outside their marriage,” he said. “The solution is to stick to one partner, not condoms.”

This feature is used with permission from IRIN/PlusNewswww.plusnews.org