Sexual health counselor Sheila Manjate from Mozambique, believes that selling condoms as barriers against HIV can suggest couples don’t trust each other. It’s easier to sell condoms as sexy contraceptives, because sex and romance sell.
The Use of Condoms in Mozambique Speaker: Like all countries in Southern Africa, Mozambique suffers from HIV/AIDS. Every year millions of dollars are spent on prevention campaigns, including promoting condoms. But the battle is far from won. And one person thinks she knows why. Sheila Manjate: I don't know how many students there are, maybe eight thousand. To pick up condoms ― I’ve the records here, maybe a hundred, per month. Speaker: At the North East Secondary school in the capital Maputo, 22- year-old Sheila is a trained sexual health councilor. In her office, young people come to her with their intimate problems. Boy: I'm having a problem with my girlfriend. We have been going steady for three years now. But lately, her behavior has changed and we quarrel a lot. So I would like your advice. We were afraid of pregnancy, but AIDS was never on our minds. Sheila Manjate: Before, you trusted her? Male: I did. Sheila Manjate: And you did not use a condom? Male: Often we didn’t use it. Sheila Manjate: Because you trusted her? Male: I risked it because ― I trusted her, but I mistrust her at the same time. Sheila Manjate: And when you are with the other girls? Male: I've got my girlfriend, the one I plan to marry... But I have also a friend. With her, I never have sex without a condom. But with my girlfriend, very often we have sex without a condom. Sheila Manjate: Because you trusted her? Male: I trusted her. Sheila Manjate: But now she's become like your other friend? Male: Exactly. Sheila Manjate: You don't need to let her understand that you don't trust her anymore. The woman is more horny in her fertile days, and it is exactly then that you guys stop having sex. So you introduce the condom as contraception. To avoid these stops that are not good for you, nor for her, to ejaculate outside ― because at that moment, you loose your concentration. Male: You're right. Sheila Manjate: The condom allows you all this. Speaker: The message is clear - selling condoms as barriers against HIV can suggest couples don’t trust each other. So Sheila’s convinced it’s easiest to sell condoms as contraceptives. Today in her office she’s tearing down the old public health posters. For Sheila, condoms are the main weapon against HIV/AIDS… but they must have the right image. Condoms distributed in schools and clinics are unbranded ‘white’ condoms. Much better she says, those more sexy, branded ones. Sheila lives at her grandma’s. A church-going Christian, she wants to train as a lawyer. She says what some in the big health agencies think privately. Sheila Manjate: The condom is too associated with HIV and so it has become stigmatized in the people's minds. Speaker: She’s backed by market research which shows trust in relationships is the main reason for not using condoms. Sheila knows sex and romance sell– so why not use them to promote condoms? She is working on a radio program to try her message on a wider audience. Sheila Manjate: Grandma.