Reusing Condoms in Rural Kenya

Once again my First World Problems are brought into perspective.

The word is out that condoms protect against sexually-transmitted HIV. Unfortunately, the condoms aren’t out there. Demand is far outweighing supply in Kenya, as reported by PlusNewsGlobal.

Local TV channels recently showed images of men in Isiolo, in rural northern Kenya, washing condoms and hanging them out to dry; the men said the price of condoms meant they could not afford to use them just once. Other men in the village said when they had no access to condoms, they used polythene bags and even cloth rags when having sex.

Male condoms are intended for single use; washing and re-using them weakens the latex, increasing the chances of breakage and in turn, the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Washing condoms in dirty water may also carry additional disease risk.

Condoms are free at government health centres, but in rural Kenya these are few and far between and supplies unreliable.

People want to have safer sex, they know that means they need condoms and they’re having trouble getting them. They’re under the impression that a dirty condom is better than no condom, but from what we know this is a baaaaaaad practice.

It sounds like Kenya needs to get its hands on more condoms by increasing the quantity and/or improving distribution, both of which are solutions being considered by the Kenya National AIDS Strategic Plan 2009-2013.

Via the RH Reality Check blog.


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3 Responses to “Reusing Condoms in Rural Kenya”

  1. graysintheshade Says:

    It’s a good question: is a dirty condom better than no condom?

    • biodork Says:

      It’s true. The article states some of the risks of reusing condoms, and we know that using them as intended (i.e., single-use) is the best way to ensure their efficacy. Obviously it would be better to find a way to end the need to reuse condoms, but I’m not aware of any evidence that would say “reusing condoms is WORSE than not using one at all” – especially if the partner is known to be HIV-positive.

  2. KENYA: Condom recycling highlights gaps in HIV prevention programming | Diaspora Kenyan Says:

    […] Reusing Condoms in Rural Kenya ( […]

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