•He noted that, unlike male condoms that are cumbersome to handle, female condoms are easy and hustle-free as they are won 30 minutes before the sexual activity
•He however noted that overall, the country faces a shortage of condoms with the current provision being at 150 million per year against the 450 million requirement
For Marion (not her real name), using a female condom would not be a problem to her.
Unlike other medications, a condom does not need a prescription to use it, is found in the kiosk next to any home and it is much easier to carry.
Despite having been trained on several occasions on how to use them, female condoms are not easily available.
"I could have used them because, for me, I think when I use the female condom I would be safer than the guy to use the condom. You never know what he has done with that condom, he can lie," she says.
Her peer Joan shares the same sentiments, even though she has seen it and knows how it is used, she has never used it either.
Just like Marion, Joan finds it hard to access female condoms as they are not readily available compared to male condoms.
She further feels that they should be given for free to women who wish to use them since very many cannot afford them.
"I have never used but if they were available, I would be using them because you might find that your partner is not ready to use the male condoms but because you don't know his status you will use the female condom which are very rare to find," she says.
They spoke during the International Condom Day at Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in Nairobi.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation Kenya country director Samuel Kinyanjui said despite the demand for female condoms being high, there exists a gap in the amount procured.
He noted that the female condom requirement is about eight to 10 million yet in the latest procurement the government saw only three million procured.
"I wish the female condom were much more available because it gives the women a chance to take control and protect themselves and their partners without having to negotiate because some men do not want to use a condom," Kinyanjui said.
He noted that, unlike male condoms that are cumbersome to handle, female condoms are easy and hassle-free as they are won 30 minutes before the sexual activity.
He noted that overall, the country faces a shortage of condoms with the current provision being at 150 million per year against the 450 million requirement.
This, he said is due to the taxes imposed by the government on donated condoms which has made it difficult for donors.
"Donors are now saying they can't be donating free condoms, transporting to the country for free, giving funding for distributing and the government will be asking for tax," Kinyanjui said.
Speaking at the same venue, Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris pledged to rally Parliament to ensure taxes on donated condoms are done away with completely.
She said even though the government is looking for taxes to finance its development agenda, it was unreasonable to impose taxes on donations of condoms.
Passaris noted that condoms are not only meant to save lives but also play a vital role in preventing unwanted pregnancies and can prevent STDs and HIV.
"I am making to make it my agenda to ensure that we remove the taxes on donations of condoms that come to this country. If the condoms are coming free then we have to make sure we zero rate the tax," Passaris said.
The National Syndemic Disease Control Council CEO Ruth Laibon-Masha said despite having a condom in use for a long time, there is still a stigma around it.
She noted that the war against HIV/AIDs cannot be won in the country if condom use is not embraced
She said it is the only tool that prevents pregnancies, STDs and HIV.
"We have the potential to ensure that every sexually active person can be able to choose to have a condom and use it," Masha said.
International Condom Day is celebrated on February 13 to bring visibility back to this safe, inexpensive and highly effective tool to prevent transmission of HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies.