We’ve had a giggle at Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s condom presentation in the National Assembly this week.
But even after proposing a national commission of enquiry on the fact that there is no apple flavoured Max Condom, there’s a bigger point here: government intervention in the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
It was recently revealed that despite government interventions, young people at different tertiary institutions in South Africa still believe myths about condom usage. And it’s not just South Africa. Research shows that 70% of young people in Sub-Saharan South Africa do not have comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
We spoke to Pulane Baloyi, senior programmes manager at the Soul City Institute to bust the most common HIV prevention myths among young people.
1. You won’t get infected with HIV if you pull out before ejaculation
“This is a similar myth to one that says if you kiss someone who is living with HIV, you will also get it. People don’t realise that it takes having a cut, fluids connecting for you to contract HIV. During sex without a condom, HIV moves from the body fluid, be it blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-cum or anal mucus, of an infected person into the body and bloodstream of their sexual partner. If you’re having unprotected sex and pull out just before you ejaculate, how do you know that it’s not late already? It’s always better to be safe and use condoms. There’s so much education around condom usage that we’re now talking about dual contraception because of it.”
2. Women who carry condoms or initiate condom use are promiscuous, or HIV-positive
“Not at all, they’re actually playing it safe. It’s not because they’re ready to have sex but they’re putting their health and wellness before anything else. I would encourage every woman to have a condom in their bag if possible because that is an initiative to protect herself. A woman has a right to protect her body from HIV and various STDs. Men carry condoms for protection and are not seen as promiscuous or HIV positive. Why can’t the same apply to women?”
3. Condoms feel unnatural and kill the mood
“I think it’s psychological. I think you condition your mind to tell you that skin on skin is the best. The sensation is not brought by skin on skin but by the experience of having sex. Condoms do not kill the mood or make sex significantly less enjoyable, it actually doesn’t make that much of a difference.
“Most of these myths are psychological and a part of denying the truth. It’s a defence mechanism, to acknowledge that there is a problem but distancing yourself from it. Some are using these myths to protect themselves from facing reality.”