HARARE- A local non-governmental organisation which offers free HIV services to sex workers, the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV/Aids Research (CeSHHAR), has noted a significant increase in the uptake of female condoms in recent months.

Audrey Chikeya, CeSHHAR’s HIV outreach officer for Kadoma, told journalists recently that there has been a notable uptake of female condoms since the introduction of flavoured varieties.

“With female condoms, we have seen an increase in uptake because when we started, female condoms were not very popular with the sex workers but for last month, we had 600 female condoms of different flavours distributed to them,” she said.

Chikeya attributed the rise in the popularity of the contraceptive to the introduction of flavoured female condoms.

“They are flavoured with strawberry, vanilla and all and they are now a hit. We have attributed that to the different flavours that come with the female condoms, which then attracts more partners for the sex workers. They say it’s more marketable and sometimes their partners feel like they don’t need to wear a condom but if it’s the women wearing one, then its fine,” she said.

She said increased uptake of female condoms was also a result of their sexual education awareness programmes to sex workers.

“We can have an average of 20 clients per day, translating to about 100 in a week but most of them are female sex workers. For males we see about three to five sex workers including the transgender but the number is rising. We screen them for sexually transmitted infections and treat them, we also do condom education and other HIV services for free to sex workers in Mhondoro and Sanyati Districts,” said Chikeya.

She said about 5,000 male and female sex workers from Sanyati and Mhondoro Districts of Mashonaland west province benefit from CeSHHAR’s condom use promotion, free HIV testing and treatment, STIs screening and treatment programmes for free since 2021.