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COMMENT

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ODAY, Zambia joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day.Twenty five years after the epidemic was first reported in Zambia, there is growing urgency for intensified prevention and control strategies. This is because of the stark reality that there are more people getting infected than those being put on treatment.This bleak outlook is not unique to Zambia but is a global problem, because every time one is put on treatment, more people are getting infected. Research, medical and scientific experts have a better portrayal of this alarming situation, but even from a layman’s point of view, it is not difficult to see that the rate at which the epidemic is spreading is outrunning efforts being made to put the infected on treatment. According to figures from research experts, each time two people receive treatment, five others are infected. What emerges from this gloomy picture is that the world has a lot of catching up to do to redress this mathematical imbalance and, more importantly, save more lives. With such difficulties being encountered on the treatment front, it only makes sense that efforts are stepped up to prevent the spread of the disease.Once fewer people are infected, the need for treatment is also reduced correspondingly. Of course, the ultimate aim is to have no infections at all but considering the totality of the HIV/AIDS pandemic , for now the world should be content with whatever incremental progress is achieved while efforts continue being made to find a cure. However, for options such as prevention to be effective, people need to be informed not only about the dangers of HIV/AIDS but also about the need to know their status. When people know their HIV/AIDS status, they become empowered to make the right decisions and take the choices which help them stay negative or prevent those that are positive from spreading the disease. Unfortunately, only 15 per cent of people in Zambia know their status, and among these, the majority are the educated while the uneducated ones remain largely ignorant about their status. This means that people in rural areas have still not adequately received the message on the need for them to get tested and know their status. If illiteracy is a factor, other ways of delivering the message to rural and peri-urban dwellers must be promoted.In this regard, musicians, artists and dramatists must be used increasingly as an alternative means to put the message across. In any case, music, drama and other artistic products are user- friendly and this kind of universal appeal makes it easier for recipients to digest the messages delivered. Access to the tools of prevention must also be improved.For instance, when one talks of condoms, simple measures can have more meaningful impact than the usual resort to sophisticated strategies. The “surreptitious” display of condoms in some outlets is inhibiting as many people find it difficult to openly call out but will instead beat about the bush talking about “neighbouring” merchandise before zeroing in on “the item next to that”. Instead of putting the condoms out of reach of customers, a simple move like displaying them prominently on the counter can go a long way in preventing spread of the disease. Insignificant as this issue might seem, society’s attitude should also change so that people wishing to buy condoms do so freely without looking over their shoulders to see who might “stigmatise’ such a transaction. Since treatment of those infected is proving a formidable challenge, no effort should be spared in taking any steps towards preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Zambia Daily Mail

Livingstone churches help build families

WHO issues new guidelines on HIV

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday issued revised guidelines for millions of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Here are the major recommendations by the United Nations agency which has 193 member states: Countries should phase out use of Stavudine, the most widespread antiretroviral, because it has “long-term, irreversible” side-effects including wasting and a nerve disorder. US drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and India’s Cipla and Aurobindo Pharma Ltd are among leading producers. Instead, countries should use two other anti-retrovirals - Zidovudine (AZT) or Tenofovir (TDF) - which are less toxic and equally effective. HIV patients, including pregnant women, should now start antiretrovirals earlier, when their CD4 count, a measure of immune system strength, falls to 350 cells/mm3, regardless of symptoms. WHO’s previous guidelines, issued in 2006, called for starting treatment when patients’ CD4 count falls to 200 cells/ mm3 - when they typically show symptoms of HIV disease. “The best time to start ART (antiretroviral therapy) is before patients become unwell or develop their first opportunistic infection,” the WHO said, referring to diseases such as tuberculosis which prey on weakened immune systems. To prevent mother-to-child transmission, HIV-positive pregnant women should start using the drugs from 14 weeks into pregnancy, rather than 28 weeks as previously recommended, and continue until the end of breastfeeding. “For the first time, there is enough evidence for WHO to recommend antiretrovirals while breastfeeding,” it said. Breastfeeding should continue until the infant is a year old, provided both mother and child take the drugs. “This will reduce the risk of HIV transmission and improve the infant’s chance of survival.” Without treatment, one third of the children living with HIV die before their first birthday and almost half by the second year, the Geneva-based agency said. - REUTERS.

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Artistes part of HIV fight By BRIAN BWALYA

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O MATTER where you go and what you do, it is e i t h e r y o u a r e a ff e c t e d o r infected. In turn, efforts to turn the tide of the AIDS epidemic span the spectrum of endeavours from science to art. The focus here is on the impact of arts – and its role in spreading understanding of this preventable disease. While some songs, as well as the images of the artistes performing them seem to run counter to preventing the spread of a sexually transmitted disease, some performers have put the epidemic in their sights with songs that clearly discuss the dangers, prevention and management of the pandemic. Examples of such songs are Ma Condom by Burning Yo u t h , A m a H i p s b y F o u r Legs, Matenda Ya AIDS by late Paul Ngozi and many more. Chitongwa Siame, popularly known as O.C. says the performing arts do

contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS pandemic. He says when he is performing, not only does he sing about AIDS, he also talks about it. He suggests abstaining from sex, and if not, to use condoms and get tested for the virus that leads to AIDS often. Famillia group leader Wi l l i a m N ’ g a m b i a . k . a Dirty Deedz announced that following their successful recording of I will See You Again, the group would soon be joining hands with several organisations to impress fellow youths with the need to get tested for the virus. Dirty Deedz, whose group also won the Best Hip-Hop Award at the Born & Bred Aw a r d s c e r e m o n y h e l d a t S a n d y ’s C r e a t i o n s l a s t year, said Famillia was also targeting fellow youths in the fight against multi-partners in this AIDS era. In I Will See You Again, in One Love Famillia tries to put across the need for testing, as well as messages targeting stigma and discrimination.

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IVINGSTONE, Zambia’s tourist capital, is one of the country’s busiest border and transit towns but the money that it has brought in has come at the cost of health for the residents of this historic town. As a gateway to Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, Livingstone has not attracted trade in merchandise only; it has invited sex trade and those who pay the price for dealing in it — young women and truck drivers, among others. Some of the victims who pay the biggest price for that commerce, though, one charity has found, are children. Here’s how it works, and how a faith-based group is tackling the challenge. Livingstone is an entry and exit point for those who fly, drive and walk in – both foreigners and Zambians. Of those who drive, a large number of truck drivers passing through Livingstone and in the process they have lots of contact with people – and particularly contact with sex workers or girlfriends who put them and the people they are in contact with at risk of contracting HIV. Being one of the busiest borders, it takes a long time to for trucks to clear through the Zambia Revenue Authority check point. In the process, truckers find ways to fill the time.

“With many tourists, workers or even workshop attendees coming in from any country to Livingstone, there are some who bring the virus in and others who take it away with them,” says Father Jackson Katete, the Parish Priest for Livingstone Anglican Parish. Little wonder the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Livingstone is about 30.1per cent Faced with this social dilemma, the Anglican Church decided to join the fight against AIDS. The Livingstone Anglican parish established the children’s project in 1996 to the sufferings of the people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS among who were widows and orphans. “Since there were other organisations that dealt with the widows such as the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Christian Council of Zambia, the project concentrated on the plight of orphans and vulnerable children and was named Ngwenya Kids Paradise,” Fr Katete, who has been the Parish Priest of all Anglican Churches in Livingstone since 2005, said. There are five Anglican churches scattered around the townships of Livingstone (Maramba, Dambwa, Ngwenya and Airport Compound). Fr Katete said at one of the meetings, members expressed worry about the stigma in the name, hence the change to Livingstone Anglican Children’s Project. Livingstone Anglican Children’s Project (LACP) operates under the Zambian Anglican Church. LACP is a community and faith-based organisation which works for the benefit of all, irrespective of faith, to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on orphans and children who are affected by or infected with HIV/ AIDS. “LACP works to give direct support to children within

its community, to sustain families, to keep children within the African extended family structure and to give hope to orphans and vulnerable children,” said Fr Katete, who has been directing the operations of LACP since 2006. LACP works through volunteer caregivers, elected community representatives and counsellors. It seeks to move communities, help families and support their economic activities so that they can become selfsustaining and can manage their lives – including the care of their orphans and vulnerable children. LACP has just renewed working with the International Labour Organisation/International Programme on the Elimination of Child labour (ILO/IPEC) to withdraw and prevent children from child labour and integrate them into schools via transitional schooling. Selected parents or guardians are being helped with income-generating activities to eventually enable them to support their children and consequently reduce donor dependence. This is the second ILO/IPEC child labour programme that LACP has worked on. LACP is also working with Every Orphan’s Hope in providing school and home supplements to orphans. The programme gives support to families that keep orphans so they can provide them with the structure and love that children need. LACP also works with Firelight Foundation to counsel children through recreation activities, building play park equipment in Dambwa and Ngwenya for about 350 children for organised activities on Saturdays. As the children play, they learn assertiveness skills and counsellors are at hand to counsel them. LACP also provides training for caregivers.

FATHER Jackson Katete (centre) shakes hands with Rabson Ngoma, a member of the Ngwenya community child labour who received a bicycle from LACP project secretary, Mumbe Muleya. The bicycle facilitates Mr. Ngoma’s movements in monitoring children withdrawn from child labour and income generating activities of their parents.

VCT marks beginning not end to managing HIV

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MINISTRY of Health has released statistics on the uptake of VCT by provinces.

HE New Start Counselling and Testing Centre off Lusaka’s Cairo Road was having another fairly, typically busy day last week. By noon, 25 people had streamed through the door of the second floor offices opposite Shoprite. Only three had been there before to be tested to see if they had the virus that leads to AIDS. The other 22 were visiting the centre for the first time. Stigma was apparently not an issue, as visitors stopped at the counter on the way out asking for the orange rubber bracelet that publicly stated they had tested.

While there, in addition to learning their HIV status, they could also get more information. A life-sized rubber model in a glass case behind the receptionist was available to demonstrate proper condom use – if clients asked. In addition, counselling to avoid future risks is part of the deal. Still for all that testing centres such as this have proliferated here in recent years, getting more people to know their HIV status – a step experts agree is crucial to turning the tide of this epidemic, has remained a slow struggle. It is an area where, as the HIV epidemic continues to pose a serious threat to health, life, and advancement here, more questions are being raised than answers to the challenge. In spite of efforts by Government and nongovernmental, faith-based and private organisations in recent years only about 15 percent of Zambians have been tested for HIV. Ministry of Health spokesperson Kamoto Mbewe attributes the stubbornly low number to stigma saying the Ministry of Health has made testing as well as treatment available.

He adds that the free services and medical treatment should be a motivating factor for people to willingly undergo counselling and testing. In the past, before treatment was readily available, he points out, people had less reason to want to know if they had the virus. Dr Mbewe says leaders at all levels must be actively involved, saying their involvement can inspire more people to test for their HIV status, but would not say if that involvement should include getting tested themselves. Institutions and companies must also endeavour to encourage their workers to get tested, he said, by introducing effective work policies. “They must also provide an conducive environment that is encouraging because people must be willing to test,” Dr Mbewe said. Dr Mbewe further says that there is need to consistently remind people with effective messages adding “it is less painful to take drugs after an early diagnosis than treating the disease at an advanced stage.” He emphasises that testing is voluntary and that with the human rights theme of this year’s World AIDS Day that is important to remember. But he

says that makes it all the more important that individuals take the responsibility to get tested. Recent research in the Copperbelt and Luapula, though, indicated that the great majority of people getting tested for HIV had education levels of secondary school or higher, indicating that testing, or effective messages on the importance of testing are not reaching most of the population. According to Government statistics, 65 percent of women and 51 percent of men have only primary levels of education – or less. But even efforts to reach the educated can be improved, according to Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM) director Daniel Nkalamo. He points to an urgent need to increase efforts to let the public know the importance of testing for HIV. Mr Nkalamo, who is coordinating an HIV/AIDS media campaign dubbed ‘Heartsminds’, says information from the media can greatly enhance efforts to get people to test. The Heartsminds campaign involves ZAMCOM, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana chapter and

the University of Kentucky to support efforts aimed at raising the quality of HIV/ AIDS reporting in Africa. “The levels of stigma and denial are still high and thus the need for mindset transformation both at individual and community levels,” he said. He added that some people still don’t get tested simply because they don’t want to acknowledge that they have been having sex. He adds that the media needs to adjust to changes in what is known of the epidemic and find new ways to tell stories about HIV, and he urges media houses to establish editorial policies to ensure reporting is accurate and relevant. At the same time, he notes that non-governmental organisations (NGO) can work harder to make up-todate information available to journalists, so that they, in turn, can make current information available to the public. Mr Nkalamo is, however, quick to point out that journalists have over the years improved their reportage on HIV/AIDS issues and moved away from stigmatising and attaching the death, doomed ‘label’ to the pandemic.


Zambia Daily Mail

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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HIV/AIDS in prison: Crisis of the conrun protecting society outside,” says Dr Simooya. Started in 1995, In But Free is based on the principle that prisoners have a right to equivalent health services. In conjunction with the Zambia Prisons Service, it has conducted an aggressive HIV/AIDS R OSCAR andsexuallytransmitted S i m o o y a infections awareness was just another campaign backed practising physician by the promotion of and researcher in behavioural change 1988 when he got a among prisoners, grant to look at HIV says Dr Simooya. in prisons. The project has more Most of the blood recently also embarked supply used in hospitals on a drive to encourage for transfusions came voluntary counselling from the prisons then, and testing and antiand it seemed a good retroviral therapy in idea to find out how prisons. prevalent the virus A recent report shows that leads to AIDS was that in 2004 alone 449 among prisoners here. inmates died of HIVWhat he found related illnesses. out in the study that To identify the followed has led him current status of the to dedicate his time epidemic in prisons, since to alleviating Government through poor health conditions the Ministry of Home in prisons, and start Affairs has okayed ‘A an organisation, In Sero Prevalence and But Free to advocate Behavioural Survey prisoners’ rights. of the HIV/AIDS This month, Dr Situation in Zambian Simooya, now chief Prisons.’ medical officer at the In But Free is Copperbelt University, conducting the study is continuing his in partnership with fourth survey of HIV the Zambia Prisons in prisons, an effort Services, Tropical he hopes will lead to Diseases Research changes. Centre, National He says that one of HIV/AIDS/STIs/TB the reasons that the Council (NAC) and health and HIV status Central Statistical of those in prison is Office started in April important to him is last year and is due to a reason it should be be completed soon, important to everyone. says Dr Simooya. Of the 15,000 people According to the in Zambian prisons, Zambia Demographic most are serving and Health Survey, short sentences. HIV HIV/AIDS infection infections acquired among Zambians aged inside can easily be between 15 and 49 transmitted outside. years has dropped from “Protecting inmates 18 percent in the 1980s against HIV and to 14 percent today. AIDS is in the long

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But worldwide HIV prevalence in prison is estimated to be as much as five times that of the general population. Earlier studies indicate that in Zambia HIV prevalence in prisons is at least twice that of the general population. Previous studies showed a rate of 27 percent, which Dr Simooya says likely falls short of reality. In addition, studies showed 15 percent of inmates had sexually transmitted infections. The rate of tuberculosis was 5,000 per 100,000. In addition, 12 percent of prisoners admitted to engaging in male to male sex, but Dr Simooya says that figure is likely higher as well. Male to male sex remains the main mode of HIV transmission in prisons. In 1990 when the national AIDS Policy was adopted at the Garden House Hotel this fact was recognised but the idea of condom distribution in prisons was thrown out as male-to-male sex is a crime punishable by a five-year term in Zambia. “Also sex is not allowed in prison,” says Dr Simooya. He also believes that some of those released continue with male to male sex while other ex-convicts who engaged in it may be married and if infected in prison pass on the diseases to their wives. One obstacle to condom distribution has come from prisoners themselves who frown on the idea, because it would draw attention to the fact male to male sex takes place among them. “Others were afraid

Reality of HIV threat behind To get a clear picture of what goes on in prisons PASCHALINA PHIRI interviewed an ex-convict who was held at Kamwala Remand Prison in Lusaka for two years from 2001 to 2003 and later jailed in Lusaka Central Prison (Chimbokaila) for three years. He was released in 2006.

SIMOOYA.

their wives would rebel,” Dr Simooya adds. Other studies conducted were in 1994 to 1995 at Kamfinsa prison in Kitwe to learn if measures to change behaviour there were in line with the national policy. The studies found that the main causes of HIV infection were tattooing and shared needles. In addition 75 percent of those who volunteered to be tested were found to be HIV positive. In 1998 a more representative study was done with the Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and UN on Drugs and Crime in Lusaka, Solwezi, Kabwe and Kitwe prisons. That study found a 27 percent HIV prevalence among prisoners, Dr Simooya said. “Twenty percent of the prisoners had tattooes, he said“beautiful tattoos of scorpions and other artworks.” Those who engaged

in male-to-male sex attributed it to loneliness. But researchers also concluded that inadequate food – that led some prisoners to eat lizards - and toiletry supplies contributed to transactional sex in prison. The spread of diseases such as TB and scabies was attributed to overcrowding. The study also found that 15 percent of the juveniles had sexually transmitted infections. Recognising the danger that tattooing posed, the government in 2000 banned it in prison. Also, President Levy Mwanawasa ensured a programme to distribute mattresses and blankets in prisons was started, Dr Simooya says. He was happy that ART and TB treatment were now available for prisoners, but says, however, more needs to be done such as the provision of CD4 count machines. He adds court processes need to be expedited to relieve

prison overcrowding as in today’s congested facilities lack of access to medical services and unsanitary surroundings can lead to greater vulnerability to HIV and other airborne viruses such as tuberculosis. These conditions and malnutrition can also shorten life expectancy for prisoners with AIDS. Now, 21 years after the HIV epidemic drew his attention to prisons, Dr Simooya maintains that a holistic approach to humane conditions for the incarcerated is necessary. He includes conditions in women’s prisons where the threat of HIV is lower but basic sanitary needs, including female hygiene supplies remain inadequate. He also dreams of the day when condoms will be allowed in prisons. Dr Simooya reaffirms: “Protecting inmates against HIV and AIDS is in the long run protecting society outside.”

QUESTION: In the 1980s and early 90s prisoners were requested to donate blood for hospitals. Does this still go on? ANSWER: I cannot remember any systematic call for blood donations. Yes, there was an emergency some time in 2003 when some prisoners were asked to volunteer, I am sure the blood drawn must have, as usual, been subjected to testing. I, however, do not remember any occasion when prisoners were asked to donate blood. Q: How are the sleeping quarters? I understand prisoners are now given blankets and mattresses. Is this true? A There are no sleeping quarters as such. The cells are bare open rooms with few mattresses, usually for use by the Kapitao (captains). At Kamwala Remand Prison 90 percent sleep sitting while at Chimbokaila about 40 percent also sleep while sitting. The rest lie on mattresses spread on the floor. There is very little need for blankets for “sitting sleeping.” If more mattresses have been sourced, it means that more can be spread for a few more to lie down. However, congestion often rules out the need for mattresses since people cannot lie down. Q: While in prison did you meet anyone with HIV and AIDS. If so what treatment did they get? A: There are many, many HIV cases, some very pathetic. The patients are in need of special food which they cannot afford. The church, especially Catholic church-Kabwata has a feeding programme to alleviate suffering. Many, however, die. One of those who died was a very close friend of mine who simply refused to take medication because of stigma. He did not want people to know he was infected. A chest infection which landed him in the University Teaching Hospital dispatched him as he simply refused to take medication. Q: Are there any prisoners on antiretroviral therapy? A: There are many prisoners on ART. There is a programme for treatment organised by the Prison Service. The problem as explained earlier is that the patients require care which the Prison Service cannot give. Q: Do prisoners have access to voluntary counselling and testing? A: The Go Centre, a religious organisation, has been running a very successful VCT programme in conjunction with the prison medical service. This has given prisoners access to VCT. There is regular voluntary testing and those positive are quite many, more than outside, I suspect. Q: Did you meet anyone with tuberculosis? A: TB? Plenty. There is a special cell at Chimbokaila which accommodates TB patients, some of whom are in very bad shape, again, because of poor care and lack of nutrition. Cell No.1 at Kamwala Prison also has some TB patients who unfortunately, in both cases, mingle with other prisoners. Q: I understand tattooing was banned

in 2002 by the Prison Service because of the danger of HIV infection, does this still go on in secret? A: Tattooing is almost non-existent. I never heard of any case. Q: Are drugs smuggled into prison. If so are some of them injectable? A: Cannabis is the main drug that is smuggled into prison. It is very common especially among gangs that have work detail outside the prison. They bring in the drugs with the connivance of guards who benefit from the sales inside prison. Q: Do prisoners get hygiene packs? A: I do not know what hygiene packs are in relation to men, but female prisoners have difficulties with sanitary supplies. Some non-governmental organisations try to help with a supply of “things” but often not very satisfactory, resulting in some unhygienic conditions. Q: Are some prisoners, because of their wealth, allowed conjugal rights? A: No conjugal rights whatsoever. No privacy of any kind. Even the toilets are open for all to see. Q: Is male to male sex common? A: Male to male sex. Yes, but very hidden and frowned upon. Once discovered punishment is very severe. It includes lashes and being covered in soot then made to roll in mud (kunyowa). (Note: The former prisoner says that because of the ban on sex in prison as well as sex between men being illegal in Zambia condoms are considered unnecessary, and prisoners have no access to them. In addition, while acknowledging male to male sex takes place in prison, he says lack of privacy makes rape “impossible”.) Q: How are juveniles treated? A: Juveniles have their own cells, but in reality they are in large demand by the more senior prisoners who use them in exchange for food and security. Q: When a prisoner gets sick, what happens? There is a clinic within the prison - both prisons actually. The clinics are manned by nurses. Complicated cases are sent to the hospital. The services are very rudimentary and certainly not able to cope with the range of illnesses that present themselves. Often too, there are outbreaks of cholera and other diseases that do claim lives. Q: Anything else you would like to add? Although a lot is written about sodomy in prison, the situation is very different. It is a practice frowned upon by both the prisoners and the guards although it does happen among consenting partners. It is often the senior prisoners, those with privileges who lure young prisoners, with the promise of food and security, into a relationship. What happens is that during the day inmates are not allowed into the cells to allow for cleaning. During such periods the captains send look-outs to stand guard as they occupy the cell. In very rare cases a captain or ordinary prisoner will “sleep” with a fellow prisoner in the presence of other prisoners, and where this happens it is very carefully concealed. If and when discovered, it is ruthlessly punished.

Helping customers buy condoms with confidence

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O RT H M E A D pharmacy used to sell about 10 condoms a day. Then the drug store moved the condoms from behind the counter to where customers could reach them without having to ask. Suddenly, condom sales tripled. Even now, however, pharmacist Reuben Banda says, customers who know him wait until he turns his back before they make their condom

purchase quickly and discreetly. Although condoms are widely considered the most essential component of the trinity popularly known as the ABC (abstain from sex, be faithful, and use condoms) in HIV/AIDS circles, buying condoms is still a daunting task for many. A common joke making rounds is about a man who always disguised his condom buying spree by first asking for Panadol - the trade name for a common headache remedy. Whenever he entered the drug store, he would say “May I have Panadol and . . . the thing next to it” — in reference to condoms which were placed next to the pain-killers. Finally, according to the joke, the curious

pharmacist asked “Why do you do it if it always gives you headache?” Hazel Kabamba, a cashier at Lusaka’s Supreme Care Pharmacy says young people are especially uncomfortable with the buying of condoms. “For young men, they will wait until they can talk to a fellow man. Girls are freer,” Ms Kabamba said. Northmead Pharmacy started putting condoms on display in 2006 in realisation of the difficulties customers were having asking for them. “People were shy when we were hanging them. So, in 2006, we decided to start displaying them,” Mr Banda said. “Before we started displaying them, some people would

come in and just look around without saying anything. Some would end up buying something they didn’t need or not buy anything at all,” he said. Now, he says, “Some people even buy a box.” The store also stocks female condoms which sell well enough that they were sold out on a recent day. But, he points out, the female condoms sell better among men than women, who say they are cumbersome and uncomfortable. Smiling, Mr. Banda points out that women are quicker to buy male condoms, while men will buy female condoms by the box. In any case, they are not as popular, he said. “Sometimes a day can pass without selling any female

MOST outlets place condoms in areas that embarass and intimidate customers condom,” he said. National HIV/ AIDS Council spokesperson Justin Mwiinga says that suspicion continues to discourage condom purchases. “The problem is that condoms are associated with promiscuity, which is not the case,” Mr Mwiinga said.

“As NAC, we don’t just look at condoms as a preventive tool for HIV but also a preventive tool for other STIs and they are important for reproductive health,” he said. Getting condoms, he says, should be seen as a moral, rather than an immoral act.

“Before we started displaying them, some people would come in and just look around without saying anything. Some would end up buying something they didn’t need or not buy anything at all,” he said. Now, he says, “Some people even buy a box.” The store also stocks female condoms which sell well enough that they were sold out

Zambia Daily Mail's World AIDS Day Package  

Knight International Journalism Fellow Antigone Barton helped reporters and editors produce a World AIDS Day package that included an examin...

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