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Get braids, not AIDS

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Get braids, not AIDS is the title of an article on the work of Population Services International (PSI) in HIV/AIDS prevention in Zimbabwe.

PSI have been training female hair dressing salon owners to disseminate information about the female condom to their clients. Maria, a young hair dresser in Chitungwiza, said this in an interview with ZimbabweJournalists.com:

My clients are mostly young girls from a nearby college who are forced to engage in unprotected sex with older men because of economic pressures. They visit the salon on a regular basis and I take this opportunity to talk to them while they are having their hair done on the benefits of using the female condom.

Meanwhile the Government of Botswana has turned to advertising and marketing to give the usually unpopular female condom more prominence in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Female condoms have been re-launched in Botswana under the name Bliss. The new name and marketing campaign are expected to encourage more women to engage in safer sex. Apparently women in Botswana have been using the rings of the female condoms as bangles while discarding the rest.

Reports today also indicate an investment of US$37 million from DFID and USAID in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.

But at the end of the day, in the bedroom or on the street corner, the majority of women cannot insist on their right to protect themselves during sex with their partners or their clients. HIV/AIDS education needs the involvement of both men and women so we’re looking forward to PSI’s barber shop campaign.

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