Why the youth still resists condom use

Monday December 4 2017


By Lugano Wilson

HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy among young people are urgent public health problems still faced in Tanzania.
For instance, the use of condom in Tanzania is met with daunting challenges including inconsistent usage and from my own experience many of the youths don’t use condoms at all.
I recall a university student once telling me that she would rather get HIV than become pregnant, owing to the fact that she might be rusticated/ expelled from studies if she gets pregnant. But if she gets HIV she will not meet the wrath of the law and it will be her own secret.

Here’s the explanation
It seems like the young adults are being coerced to use condoms, simply put they do not like them even though they are aware to the perils of practicing unsafe sex.
A survey published in avert.org, revealed that condom use is still inadequate, with only 34.1 per cent of young men, and 41.5 per cent of young women using a condom in the same year in Tanzania.
I was so flabbergasted when my co-worker admitted that he never uses condoms. When questioned why, the much-touted reason for not using condom is the Swahili assertion that, “huwezi kula pipi na ganda lake” [meaning, you cannot consume candy with its cover altogether], which points out to the fact that there is reduced sensation of sexual pleasure when you use condom.
Of course when viewing the matter from social prism of sexual act, pleasure is an important aspect of sex. Anything that interferes with it can be viewed in a negative way; it’s only natural to want to maximise pleasure during sex. It’s no wonder that many use this as an excuse for not wearing condom.
Nevertheless, a number of research papers disapprove this claim with surveys revealing that both women and men consistently rate sex arousing and pleasurable without a condom.
Further research shows that any reduction of pleasure is usually due to using a condom that’s imperfectly sized.
In one of the incidences, I heard my friend saying that, “mwanamke huyu  anavyooekana hawezi kuwa na ngoma, siwezi kutumia kondomu” [meaning, from the way this woman looks, she must be HIV free, there is no need to use a condom].
Though many Tanzanians are aware of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the general public’s understanding of symptoms, effect on the quality of life and the risk of transmission is questionable.
It’s important to recall that many STDs  including HIV/AIDS may be asymptomatic. Rather than taking a gamble on the status of a new partner’s sexual health, why don’t you just use a condom to cut down 98 per cent  of the risk?
So we ought to be aware of the jeopardy associated with the practice of unsafe sex, it is weird that people are still willing to take the risk and not use condom.

Condoms has nothing to do with trust
You might also hear someone say, “you want me to wear a  condom, don’t you trust me?”
Condoms do not represent trust. Lovers always mistake intimacy and trust for safety, it must be construed that trust and intimacy are essential ingredients in any sexual relationship but so is the safety.
Lastly, do not accept to be dragged into unsafe sex for whatever reason, your safety should always come first.
Looking for a way to maximise sexual pleasure with condoms or at least change our thinking  about pleasure is important.
This could be as simple as improving genuine sensation with condoms from suggesting thinner designs to contemporary safe materials. Moreover people should know that safe sex can be good sex for a secured future.

The author is a Medical Doctor and a public health activist now based in Dar es Salaam.