Media images of men in northern Kenya washing condoms for re-use have underscored the need to improve HIV communication and close gaps in the supply of condoms in rural areas. Local TV channels recently showed images of men in Isiolo, in rural northern Kenya, washing condoms and hanging them out to dry; the men said the price of condoms meant they could not afford to use them just once. Other men in the village said when they had no access to condoms, they used polythene bags and even cloth rags when having sex.
Male condoms are intended for single use; washing and re-using them weakens the latex, increasing the chances of breakage and in turn, the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Washing condoms in dirty water may also carry additional disease risk. Condoms are free at government health centres, but in rural Kenya these are few and far between and supplies unreliable.
Hosea Motoro, 37, knows he risks infecting his wife of seven years with HIV if he does not use a condom. "I know I am positive but I don't want to give my wife HIV and I know if I use a condom, she is safe. We also don’t want any children because we already have five and that is enough for us," he said. Motoro usually walks the 5km to his nearest health centre for condoms, but on occasion finds them out of stock... Plus news