KNOWLEDGE of condom use is known in Fiji, however, more effort needs to be done in ensuring consistent messaging, says UNAIDS country director Fiji and the Pacific, Renata Ram.
Ms Ram said high sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) rates and low condom use was still an issue.
“The recent Global AIDS monitoring report from Fiji shows that in men who have sex with men (MSM), only 24 per cent used a condom at their last sexual encounter,” Ms Ram said.
“There is a general perception in Fiji that the use of condoms reduces pleasure, however, when used correctly is the contrary.
“Condoms have high effectiveness when used correctly in protecting people from contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and unintended pregnancies.
“Condoms are the only birth control that reduces your risk of both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. “But, in order to work, condoms must be used correctly and must be used every time you have sex.”
She said another important protection that condoms served was reducing the risk against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which caused cervical cancer in women. She added access to condoms empowered individual to make safer decisions.
“This is why the Ministry of Health in Fiji has condoms available at all their reproductive health clinics.
“Also, Rainbow Pride Foundation runs a condomising hotspots program where they provide condoms supplied by the ministry as well as UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) at nightclubs, bars and hotels for free.”
She highlighted that research among serodiscordant couples where one partner was living with HIV and the other was not, showed that consistent condom use significantly reduced the risk of HIV transmission both from men to women and women to men.
“UNAIDS has a ‘No rubber, no kaba’ (a slang that translates to no condom, no sex) initiative.
“Through this initiative, UNAIDS works with youth groups such as Fiji Youth for Sexual Reproductive Health Alliance (FYSA) to start the conversation on the importance of safe sex.” She said their main aim was to make the slogan a message of empowerment to making safer sex decisions.