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Opinions of Sunday, 30 May 2010

Columnist: Aminu, Adongo Richard

An Effective Means Of Curtailing The Hiv-Aids Menace, My Experience.

I have been out of touch for a while as regards statistics of the HIV/ AIDS pandemic in Ghana. But as I used to know it, sexual mode of transmission ranked highest among all the other transmission modes. Experts had said that this mode of transmission was gaining notoriety because we, as Ghanaians did not like to use condoms.

When the price of the condom was cited as one of the reasons for its non-use, it was so heavily subsidized that up till now, it is only pure water which beats the condom price in the market. Readers should not mistake me, I mean the average condom when I say condom. I am referring to those numerous other latex material that has come in several brands in the name of condom.

When the price issue was solved, then came the issue of attitude. With attitude, I am referring the attitude of the seller of the condom, buyer of the thing and the Ghanaian attitude in totality when it comes to the issue of contraception.

A young man once went to a pharmacy right next to his house to buy a condom. Esi, the pharmacy attendant who had been a very close friend to the young man exclaimed at him AND YOU TOO? My friend tried to put in a quick lie to say that he was sent. But Esi would have none of that. She subsequently would not speak to my friend, and for three months now, they were on cold war terms.

When my good friend tried to find out from Esi what the problem was, all Esi could say is that she was disappointed in my friend because she least expected him to be a patron of condoms. For the avoidance of doubt, my good pal is a 24year old national service personnel while Esi too is about the same age and also a graduate of one of the professional institutes in Accra.

However, like the Greek scientific investigator who shouted EUREKA, EUREKA when he finally discovered the link between mass and volume while in a public swimming pool, I also discovered a very effective, convenient, dignified and above all, confidential way of distributing, or should I say, DISSEMINATING the condom.

It was a fine Saturday morning, the lights around my area had gone out. The unbearable heat in my room had thus conveniently succeeded in chasing me out; but to where? To friends? No, friends were out of the question. They had succeeded in intoxicating me through out the whole week after work. I had thus been dehydrated and pitifully looked like a vulture drenched by the heavy torrents of an unexpected harmathan rain. I therefore dreaded them that Saturday morning, albeit temporarily.

But where was I to go? It suddenly hit me like a thunderbolt that the office is usually open on Saturdays. I therefore made for the office. The thought of going there gladdened me so much. I would sit in a well cushioned and comfortable swivel chair, I will be basking in the serene coolness of the air condition which would then sail my soul high above the azures, and above all, I would have the opportunity to surf the web and check out my old time friends on the infamous social interactive website; facebook.

Just about an hour or so into my time at the office, I felt like attending to nature’s call. The office is located on the top floor of one of the centrally located buildings in the CBD. We therefore shared a common place of convenience with one credit union organization which managed the place. It would be my first time to use the place.

After releasing my tension, I reached out for the tissue paper; my eyes nearly fell off their sockets at what I saw beside the roll of tissue paper. Inside this attractive, transparent cylindrical containers manufactured by Duraplast usually used to vend goods like PK, Original hacks and sometimes the now very common Chinese aphrodisiac drugs on our streets, were CONDOMS. They were of both male and female types.

I began to take a careful look at what was before me. I at once realized that femidoms, as the female condoms are known were more than the male ones. Even though I could not bring myself to interrogate my observation further, I reason that the two types of condoms were put in the container in equal proportion. I would want to further reason that the male users of the place patronized their condoms more.

When I told my colleagues, of course my male colleagues of what I saw, I didn’t need a computer to tell me that their frequenting of the place afterwards and the alacrity with which they returned each time they went there was not to free themselves but to help themselves with the LIFE GUARDS as we like to call them.

I would not dwell much on how they grumbled to themselves about the urgent need for the one responsible for replenishing the stock of LIFE GUARDS to do so quickly when they finally run out. They (colleagues) were fine with the anonymity of the person and so not interested in knowing whose duty it was to replenish stock. All they wanted was that there should be stocks all the time.

I have therefore been thinking about this whole thing for sometime now. If all official places of convenience were to have a small container at the corner where every user of the place could help himself with the LIFE GUARDS should it please him, would not it help in our fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic?

Some highly placed people of our society would find this sort of thing very convenient for them, especially the clergy and religious of our society who I wonder how they will get the things if need be. I am sorry, but let me even say that I asked a friend of mine what an honorable Member of Parliament would do if he wants the thing. He gave a hearty laugh and said he (honorable) would only have to send his driver or security detail. So I asked, what if MADAM has asked the driver or the security man to keep an eye on honourable’s lascivity? We all laughed and left it there.

So you see how everybody would be saved the trouble? I would therefore wish to use this medium to urge the Ghana AIDS Commission, Parliament and all other parastatal and Non Governmental Organization involved in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic to take a look at this practice and see if it could be replicated everywhere else. This article is not for the moralists, the over zealously religious and hypnotized believers. It is meant for the objective and nationalists who wish to see HIV/AIDS nipped in the bud. It is to be viewed with secular lenses.

Adongo Richard Aminu.