Condom use, as a means of protection against sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy, remains a mystery for a number of communities in Karamoja sub region.
A simple survey by this publication shows that most men among the remote IK and Tepeth communities have never seen a condom, and cannot visualize how it is used.
A sizeable number of people in the urban areas of Moroto have had the opportunity not only to see but to be trained on how to use both the male and female condoms. However, only a handful of couples and unmarried youths use condoms consistently.
Denis Lowal, a resident of Nakadeli in Rupa Sub County says although he learnt about condoms and how they are used, from his peers, he has never attempted to use them. The 19-year-old father of one child says condom use is not a topic for discussion in his family or village.
“My wife doesn’t want to hear about a condom and I can’t risk taking it home because she will think I am cheating on her. In my village, people associate condoms with prostitution and even when they are brought by partners, they turn them into bangles or balloons for children,” he said.
A number of women that this publication sought views over condom use were unwilling to speak about the subject.
At Loputuk village in Nadunget Sub County, a woman only identified as Nare said discussing condoms and condom use is a taboo.
Tom Eti, the coordinator Uganda AIDS Commission in Karamoja says many factors including attitude, culture and religion have affected condom use in the country.
However, Sam Lokut, a resident of Bazar village in Moroto Municipality says he learnt about condom use during straight talk drama shows in the village.
“A condom is part of the game these days especially for some of us who are yet to settle with one woman. I don’t trust anyone apart from myself and because I love my life, a condom is my priority in sex,” Lokut, said.
Medicals say that when used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including unwanted pregnancies, according to health experts.
High risk sexual behaviors including early sex debut, multiple sexual relationships, limited and inconsistent condom use are some of the key factors responsible for new HIV infections in Uganda. HIV prevalence rate among 15-49 years in Uganda stands at 6.0 percent according to UAC as per 2016 statistics.