The impact HIV has on every society member

HIV and AIDS have had a short, but devastating history. In the early 1980s misconception about HIV and AIDS was very high globally. Today we have accepted and believed that HIV and AIDS exist and there is the need to mitigate the virus from spreading. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 60 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and approximately 30 million people have died of AIDS.

In 2010, there were an estimated 34 million people living with HIV, 2.7 million new infections, and 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths. The Sub-Saharan African Region is the most affected, where 1.9 million people acquired the virus in 2010. In Liberia, the first HIV case was identified in 1986 at the Curran Lutheran Hospital in Zorzor, Lofa County.  The latest available data indicates that after peaking in the late 1990s HIV adult prevalence is leveling off to 1.5% in 2009 with an estimated 37,000 people living with HIV. HIV prevalence among pregnant women declined from 5.7% in 2006 to 5.4% in 2007 then to 4% in 2008 respectively.

HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex, unscreened blood transfusion, from HIV pregnant mothers to their babies and through sharing of infected needles and sharp instruments. Like other parts of the world including nations in Sub-Saharan African, the main mode of HIV transmission in Liberia is unsafe sex. HIV prevalence in the country is fuelled by the pervasiveness of multiple concurrent partnerships as a result of the socio-economic, religious and cultural factors that increases vulnerability of women and girls and their ability to negotiate for safe sex.

If unchecked HIV&AIDS could reverse the countries post war recovery effort and the achievement of Liberia Vision 2030. In accordance with global strategy of “Getting to Zeros”- zero new HIV infections; zero stigma and discrimination and; zero AIDS related deaths by 2015,” HIV prevention effort has led to decreases in the incidence of HIV infection in numerous populations such as among men who have sex with men in many western countries, among young women in Uganda, among young men in Thailand and among injecting drug users in Spain and Brazil.  Nevertheless, these initiatives have not been taken to the kind of scale needed to significantly impact on the global HIV occurrence.

Given the fact that sexual transmission constitute over 90% of all new infection in Sub-saharan Africa, it is important to promote safe sex practices to break the trajectory of HIV in Liberia and on the continent as part of the global effort at achieving zero new transmission of HIV infection by 2015.  It is upon this backdrop that I intended to discuss the topic: “Consistent and Correct Use Of CONDOM Protect Ones Against HIV Infection And Prevent Unwanted Pregnancy.”

What is condom and How does it works?
The name condom comes from the Italian word guantone, which also comes from the Italian word guanto, meaning "glove". There are two types of condoms; male and female. A condom is a barrier contraceptive. It blocks the route a sperm would take to fertilize an egg. They can be made from latex rubber, polyurethane, or lambskin. It gives the best protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for sexually active people. According the NHS (National Health Service, UK), males condoms are 98% effective against pregnancy if used correctly and consistently, while female condoms are about 95% effective.

When do you use a condom?
Condoms have expiration (Exp) or manufacture (MFG) date on the box or individual packet - you should not use the condom if indicated date has passed. It's important to check this before using a condom. You should also make sure the packet and the condom appear to be in good condition. Condoms can deteriorate if not stored properly as they are affected by both heat and light. So it's best not to use a condom that has been stored in your back pocket, your wallet, or the glove compartment of your car. If a condom feels sticky or very dry you shouldn't use it as the packaging has probably been damaged. You need to use a new condom every time you have sexual intercourse; from the moment the penis first comes into contact with the vagina or anus, until there is no contact. Never use the same condom twice!

How to use a male condom
Only put on a condom once there is a partial or full erection. Open the condom packet at one corner being careful not to tear the condom with your fingernails, your teeth, or through being too rough. Make sure the packet and condom appear to be in good condition, and check that the expiry date has not passed. Place the rolled condom over the tip of the hard penis, whilst pinching the tip of the condom enough to leave a half inch space for semen to collect. Never unroll the condom before putting it onto the penis. If the penis is not circumcised, pull back the foreskin before rolling on the condom. Roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis, and smooth out any air bubbles. (Air bubbles can cause a condom to break). Use of substances on condom: If you want to use some extra lubrication, put it on the outside of the condom. Always use a water-based lubricant (such as KY Jelly or Liquid Silk) with latex condoms, as an oil-based lubricant will cause the latex to break.  The man wearing the condom doesn't always have to be the one putting it on - it can be quite a nice thing for his partner to do such. When you have ejaculated or finished having sex, withdraw the penis before it softens. Make sure you hold the condom against the base of the penis while you withdraw, so that the semen doesn't spill. Use condoms only once.

How to use a female condom (femidom)
Femidom is soft and comfortable; it lines the inside of the vagina and provides superior heat transfer and sensitivity. It Can be inserted up to an hour before comes with full instructions. It is odorless, tasteless and does not require male erection. It can be used with any lubricant therefore while holding the soft inner ring between finger and thumb, place the closed end of the condom into the vagina. Push the condom as far into the vagina as possible - use two fingers. The outer ring should always remain lying against the outside of the vagina. If the outer ring goes into the vagina during sex, stop and adjust it so it is outside again. When the penis goes into the vagina be careful it does not slip in between the condom and the vaginal wall. When sex is over twist the condom and pulls the end of it to remove it. Do this carefully; making sure no sperm enters the vagina. It is important never to reuse a condom. Use a new one every time you have sex - it does not matter how close one sexual act is from the previous one. Always make sure your condom has not passed its expiry date. To protect the environment, condoms should not be flushed down the toilet. Many men experience extra sensation compared to using normal male condoms. Femidom is trusted by the National Health Service UK.

Condoms, lubrication and spermicides
The lubrication on condoms varies. Some condoms are not lubricated at all, some are lubricated with a silicone substance, and some condoms shave a water-based lubricant. The lubrication on condoms aims to make the condom easier to put on and more comfortable to use. The lubrication on condoms aims to make the condom easier to put on and more comfortable to use. It can also help prevent condom breakage. Using a lube can add spice to your sex life, experiment with different flavours and sensations until you find the one that suits you best. From time to time, no matter how sexy you are feeling, your body might not always produce as much moisture as you need so add a little lube to make things a little more sensual. Lubes are also perfect for use with vibrators or stimulators if you are looking to make things even more sensual. It can also help prevent condom breakage.

What do you do if the condom slips up or breaks?
This is a rare occurrence, so it's unlikely to happen. Whereas you are having sex, check the condom from time to time to make sure it hasn't split or slipped up. If it slips up, roll it back down immediately. Especially of men, if it comes off you will have to withdraw and put on a new one. If a condom breaks during sexual intercourse, pull out quickly and replace the condom. If a condom has broken and you feel that semen has come out of the condom during sex, you should consider emergency contraception such as the morning after pill and ensure that you get checked for STDs or other infection at a clinic.

As for the female, if it does slips up or breaks, feel relax, lie back, and insert one or two fingers inside of you and try to pull the condom out. Or, have your guy do it. Just be sure your nails (or his) are smooth since the tissue is delicate and easily scratched. If you're having trouble locating the rubber, don't worry; it can't get lost in your body. Chances are, it's become lodged at the top of your vaginal canal near your cervix. To better access this area, squat with your feet flat on the floor and bear down, or prop one foot on a chair and try to retrieve it with your fingers. If you still can't get it out, go to your gyno or your hospital's emergency room for help. Leaving a condom inside of you for more than a few hours can cause bacteria to build up, which can lead to an infection. And you're right to worry about pregnancy. Even if your man didn't ejaculate, pre-ejaculate might have leaked inside of you. So, unless you're using a reliable form of backup birth control, there's a chance you can become pregnant. Let your gyno know pronto so you can be prescribed emergency contraception, which should be taken within 72 hours. And, if you're not absolutely positive that your man is STD-free, you should see your doctor within a few weeks for a round of tests.

How do you dispose a used condom?
All used condoms should be wrapped in tissue or toilet paper and thrown in the bin. Condoms should not be flushed down the toilet as they may cause blockages in the sewage system. Latex condoms are made mainly from latex with added stabilizers, preservatives and vulcanizing (hardening) agents. Latex is a natural substance made from rubber trees, but because of the added ingredients most latex condoms are not biodegradable. Polyurethane condoms are made from plastic and are not biodegradable. Biodegradable latex condoms are available from some manufacturers.

The Role of Government
The AIDS epidemic can only be reversed if effective HIV prevention measures are intensified in scale and scope. Government's commitment to tackling AIDS must involves growing knowledge base, high levels of political commitment and civil society engagement to be accompany by increased domestic funding is critical to a successful national response. If Liberia must achieved its Rising Vision 2030 Goal which deals with the problems and challenges of nation's development and set the roadmap to Liberia's transformation and development, the Liberian government must firstly focus more attention on health particularly, HIV and AIDS which  in Africa is considerably more than a health problem. Indeed the government ought not to waste much more time. For “time waits for no man.” Take for instance, what may happens when due to reluctances that this nation and the world over entire farming sector which determines the existence of a country and its citizen, everyone gets affected with HIV and eventually died after few years. Or what becomes of Liberia when its transport and educational sectors suffered at the consequences of AIDS? Just think about this. Our contributions are needed. I want youalso imagine what this nation would be if the fight against HIV is over looked, and the potential manpower is threatened. Will Liberia Rising Vision 2030 be achievable in the absence of potential manpower? This is what I think, we don't want happened. What we want happen is to see Liberia rising to reach its highest peak of economy growth and infrastructural development. This is why your involvement to disseminate positive information in buttressing government's effort eliminates HIV to zero for the survival of our one world that Liberia is no exception is requested. The government must provide support for local nongovernmental organizations, civil society organizations and community based organizations to help them remain functional in caring out activities supportive of the national AIDS response.

The government must ensure adequate supply of condoms and water based lubricants for all sexually active Liberians not only to reduce transmission of new HIV infection but also contribute to reducing teenage pregnancy in the Country. The rising incidence of teenage pregnancy in the country is a clear indication of the limited use of condoms in the country. Thus it behoves on the government ministries, including the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, National AIDS Commission, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Gender and Development, the Ministry of Education and other related Agencies to design and implement programmes that promote safe sex practices especially the consistent and correct use of condoms. They much ensure that condoms are readily available to all sexually active Liberians. Sex and sexuality education including HIV prevention must be promoted in educational institutions, at the workplace, at the market place and among targeted key populations.
Individual and society

Every individual and society member has a key role to play in preventing HIV which speaks to commitment to yourself, your family, your nation and the world at large. “If we all believe that the world belongs to us and whatever affects it, affects us all, then there is the need to take a positive step in buttressing government and its international partners' efforts to prevent the virus spread by using condoms is imperative.” Every individual and society member have to do away with stigma and discrimination that when people buy condoms from widely available places including pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores, they could be pointed out by fingers as being promiscuous because such practice, rather than helping the society to eliminate the virus spread makes it impossible for people to adapt safe sexual behavioral practices. The society has to vigorously campaign on the usage of condom to serve as protection of lives and families. Let's remember “HIV and AIDS” pandemic does not only affect the immediate family but every society member as well.

Let me not hesitate to tell you start to campaigning now. Begin at home, your office and to where this message may have met you. If at home, educate the youngest child including all your children about consistent and current use of condoms and protected sex. You could also educate him/her regarding stigma and discrimination as one key factor fuelling HIV spread also. As for the female child who is venerable like any other mother, I will asked that you educate her about the harms of teenage pregnancy and  HIV poses to her future and the future of many generation. Off course, her contribution to national development is required but don't forget if you are a female to educate firstly your husband or love one about HIV and vice versa. Let us all work together to eliminate HIV infection and always remember that AIDS impacts every member of our society.

[By Solomon Watkins; 231 886 427 519; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

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