Ghana Changing Its Tune on Condoms; AIDS-Prevention Jingle Inspires More to Use Protection
May 24, 2002
Sarah Koomson, a 19-year-old in Ghana, says she is not ashamed or afraid to ask her boyfriend to use condoms. "I talked with him, and we discussed about what has happened now, in this world. So he uses it," she said matter-of-factly. Sarah has heard the message behind a mass campaign exhorting Ghanaians to "Stop AIDS/Love Life." Others are slowly taking it to heart, as well.
In Ghana, contraception has been part of a national population-control program since 1969, but condom use never really took off. Last year, a record 13.5 million condoms were purchased from the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation, which supplies about 65 percent of those sold in the country of 19.7 million people. Before the Love Life campaign began in 2000, the foundation sold an average of 5.4 million condoms annually, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers who are leading the campaign. Hopkins data show that men who reported using condoms rose from 18 percent in 1998 to 28 percent last year; among women, the percentage more than doubled from 7 percent to 16 percent.
Children as young as four years old can be heard singing the catchy "Love Life" theme song: "You can maintain one lover/If it's not on, it's not in/You can wait until marriage/Love Life. Stop AIDS." The song, a collaboration of 17 of Ghana's most popular musicians, is sung in various local languages and played often on television and radio.
Ghana's HIV infection rate hovers around 3.6 percent, and is one of the last places in sub-Saharan Africa that hasn't passed the critical 5 percent threshold, at which epidemiologists say a disease spirals out of control. President John Kufuor has made AIDS prevention and control one his top priorities.
San Francisco Chronicle
05.20.02; Jordan Lite
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.