The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Malawi government launched a new national campaign to promote condom use among young people as an HIV/AIDS prevention measure.
HIV prevalence among people aged 15-49 in Malawi is at 10 percent, according to the Malawi 2012 Global AIDS Response Progress Report [PDF], with higher prevalence rates among women than men. HIV prevalence for young people with multiple partners is around six percent. The government attributes the problem, in part, to low condom use. The campaign therefore aims at increasing public awareness of condoms and combatting perceived stigma around using condoms.
Although aiming to increase condom use, the UNFPA and Malawi government announcement did not address a major challenge to HIV/AIDS prevention in that country – low condom supply. The Malawi government has previously indicated that condom shortages and stock-outs have impeded efforts to control HIV.
Persistent condom stock-outs in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 69 percent of all people living with HIV reside [PDF], have long been a problem recognized by international experts. In 2011, Carolyn Ryan, MD, MPH, Director of Technical Leadership at the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator called the problem “really quite disturbing,” as condoms are a major tool for HIV prevention. Lack of condoms can be attributed, in part, to inadequate donor support from the international community and the influence of conservative religious ideologies on international family planning and HIV/AIDS programs.