South Africa to use flavoured condoms to tackle HIV

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Colourful condoms in Malaysia's southern seaside town of Pontian (22 January 2013)Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The condoms will be given out for free at universities and colleges

South Africa's government will distribute coloured and flavoured condoms among students to end "condom fatigue", the health minister has said.

Aaron Motsoaledi's comments came after a survey showed that condom usage had fallen in South Africa.

The decline in usage may be because "the standard-issued choice condoms just aren't cool enough", he added.

South Africa has some 6.4 million HIV-positive people - more than any other country.

The survey, by South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), showed the rate of people with HIV had risen from 10.6% in 2008 to 12.2% in 2012.

This was because of the combined effects of "new infections and a successfully expanded antiretroviral treatment [ART] programme", the report said.

Many of those infected with HIV are living longer because they are being given treatment which a previous government refused to make available in state clinics.

Some two million people are now on the ART programme, however charities have warned that local clinics are running short of the drugs, Reuters news agency reports.

The latest study shows that condom use had declined, especially in the 15 to 24 age group.

The 2008 survey showed that 85% of males used them and 66% of females, but this had dropped to 67% and 50% respectively in 2012.

"The increases in some risky sexual behaviours are disappointing, as this partly accounts for why there are so many new infections still occurring," said Leickness Simbayi, an investigator on the study.

Some three-quarters of those surveyed said they had a low risk of contracting HIV, even though 10% were already infected.

In his response to the report, Mr Motsoaledi said: "We need to inject enthusiasm into the condom campaign, and we are about to start rolling out new types of free, coloured condoms which are also flavoured."

The condoms will be distributed for free at South Africa's universities and colleges, he added.

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