BULAWAYO province has recorded a 27 percent decline in condom distribution over the past two years, a development likely to reverse gains that have been made in fighting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
The province, which has been identified as an HIV hotspot together with Harare, has the third highest prevalence in Zimbabwe at 17 percent.
A total of 4 918 new STI cases were recorded from January to June this year in Bulawayo.
According to the second quarter statistics from the National Aids Council, there have been erratic supplies of both male and female condoms, one of the recommended prevention methods.
“The male and female condom distribution shows a general downward trend between 2017 and 2019. The supply of condoms in the public health institutions in the province has generally been registering a downward trend with some institutions reporting erratic supplies,” reads the statement.
“In 2017 during the same period under review, 733 475 male condoms were distributed around Bulawayo but sadly this year only 529 130 were distributed which shows a 27 percent decrease.”
Nac said female condoms distribution had gone down to 55 327 from 66 828 per quarter.
Bulawayo Aids Co-ordinator Mrs Sinatra Nyathi said communities should embrace behaviour change information and work towards reducing the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which have shot up nine percent.
Of the second quarter total STI cases recorded, women accounted for 1 405 while men accounted for 1 169.
The same report shows that 12 percent of those who got STIs in Bulawayo tested HIV positive.
Mrs Nyathi said the increase was an indication that despite information on behaviour change, people still indulged in unprotected sex.
“The increase in STIs is also a sign that people are not using protection and as National Aids Council it is a reason to worry. In our programmes we believe in behaviour change and the number of people getting STIs is an indicator of the number of people who are at risk of contracting HIV,” Mrs Nyathi said.
She said people should take advantage of the information at their disposal.
Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council regional manager Mr Blessed Gumbi said erratic condom supplies did not spell shortages but challenges in distribution.
“We sometimes encounter challenges where there are delays in deliveries considering that the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) is now is charge of distributing all commodities including condoms,” said Mr Gumbi.
“NatPharm however, supplies against orders by facilities and maybe that is where the challenge emanates from,” he said