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2008-02-07: City promote condom use

Control and management of Sexually Transmitted Infections is a key intervention in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and is one of the main strategies used in efforts to reduce new HIV infections by City of Johannesburg Health Department.

In an effort to promote safer sexual practices, and decrease number of people acquiring Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), a STI/Condom Week campaigns are planned to be conducted nationally from 10 – 16 February 2008. The City of Johannesburg's Health Department will also coordinate awareness campaigns in targeted areas. People will be educated on the importance of practicing safe sexual practices, particularly, correct, and consistent use of condom in an effort to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV and AIDS.

Correct and consistent use of condoms reduce the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, chancroid, trichomoniasis, herpes, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Condoms can also prevent pregnancy.

Sexually transmitted infections can affect men and women from all backgrounds and economic levels, with approximately two-thirds of cases occurring in individuals less than 25 years of age. STI's can be passed from one person to another sometimes not showing any visible symptoms.

Teens are also likely to have more than one partner during their adolescence, which increases the likelihood of getting an infection. Using condoms is the best way to protect against infection for women and men of all ages who are sexually active.

In a bid to control STI's effectively, the City of Johannesburg Health Department has enforced the provision of syndromic management of STI's in all its health facilities. Syndromic management enables service providers to diagnose an STI syndrome and treat patients 'on the spot', without waiting for the results from laboratories which could be delayed. By offering treatment on patient's first visit, it helps to prevent missed opportunities and further spread of STI's. It also includes patient education about the infection; how STI's are transmitted, risky sexual behaviour, how to reduce the risk, partner management and the provision of condoms.

The advantages of the syndromic approach are that the treatment is rapid and easily accessible, cost-effective and applies to multiple infections. This makes this approach ideal for a primary health care setting such as a clinic.

STI's do not always give symptoms. Therefore some people do not know they have an STI and that they can infect others.

Signs and Symptoms of STI's are:

abnormal colour in vaginal or penile discharges then usual
pain when passing urine
itching of the vagina
pain when having sex
pain on the lower abdomen
ulcers, warts, blisters on the vulva or vagina, anus, mouth or penis
You can protect yourself from STI's by using a condom every time you have sex, as quality condoms are available from local clinics and hospitals at no cost.

We urge all sexually active people to visit their nearest clinics should they have any queries about STI's or HIV and AIDS, alternatively, they can phone the toll-free 24-hour AIDS Helpline on 0800 012 322.