In response to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Namibian military, the country's Ministry of Defense on Monday introduced a condom aimed at protecting soldiers from sexually transmitted infections and HIV, the New Era/AllAfrica.com reports.
According to the New Era/AllAfrica.com, the 864,000 condoms were procured by the U.S. Department of Defense, and, along with other donated equipment, are valued at 200,000 Namibian dollars, or about $25,000. The condom, called the "Protector," is covered in camouflaged combat gear and includes a leaflet with information on how and why a condom should be used. The condoms will be available for no cost at military counseling and testing centers, military canteens, sick bays and from HIV peer educators. According to the New Era/AllAfrica.com, a lack of HIV prevention information and services, high mobility and absence from families for long periods of time all increase soldiers' chances of contracting the virus. Minister of Defense Charles Namoloh said, "Due to the nature of their duties, military personnel are generally more exposed to the risk of HIV/AIDS than the public," adding that preventive measures and awareness campaigns should be intensified to curb the spread of HIV within the defense force.
The condom launch is part of the Military Action and Prevention Program, which is being implemented by the Social Marketing Association and is funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Dennise Mathieu said, "Just as soldiers put on their camouflaged uniforms every day and use camouflaged 4x4s and other equipment in their work, I hope they will rely on the Protector and make it part of their everyday lives and activities." Mathieu also said the Namibian military can reduce its HIV/AIDS prevalence through increased, correct and consistent use of condoms, which also should be done in conjunction with other measures, such as partner reduction (Sibeene, New Era/AllAfrica.com, 6/10).
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