Cameroon: Campaign to change attitudes to female condom use

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In Cameroon, the prevalence of HIV AIDS is decreasing according to statistics. The CAMPHIA survey focused on providing estimates of HIV risk and burden by measuring annual HIV incidence, HIV prevalence, show that 3.7 percent of adults are living with HIV in Cameroon, representing approximately 500,000 individuals.

The annual rate of new HIV infection among adults was 0.24, or 31,000 new cases per year. But young girls between 15 and 24 years of age are still the most infected segment of the population, and presenting the most challenge, in part because of men's refusal to protect themselves during sex.

For years, experts have presented the female condom as an effective way around the problem yet societal acceptance of the preservatif option has been poor.

"Sometimes some men arrive here at this bar and meet women. Sometimes they propose you to spend the evening with them and you accept. But when you ask for the preso (condom) he starts to tell you that he does not like that. He has never even used it, and he wouldn't even want to. Most often with some men it's becomes a fight." Chantal a barmaid in Douala said.

The disagreement over condom use is a situation Chantal and many women are familiar with. But this reluctance endangers sexual health, health and wellbeing.

Under the sky of Bafoussam in Western Cameroon, this December 1, 2021, a march of support and solidarity to people living with HIV, distributing male condoms, but and female. A prevention tool that is still struggling to find the support of the majority.

"No, I've never had to use the female condom, because some people say it's not practical, it's difficult to use, it makes noise during use, which makes me a little skeptical, a student by the name Ange explains.

The female condom has been shunned by many men and women, yet it is presented as an important alternative to men's refusal to protect themselves. Experts believe that it is necessary to persevere in order to have it adopted.

Florence Yoga is the head of the NGO Women's Horizons West. Yoga believes "the problem lies in negotiating this material with partners". "But it's a whole process, it's not easy, but the fight goes on" Yoga added.

According to the Cameroonian Ministry of Public Health, between 2004 and 2020 HIV prevalence has decreased among the population aged 15 to 49 years, however challenges remain for girls aged 15 to 24 years, who are 9 times more contaminated than boys of the same age group.

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