While South Africans are gearing up to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is very important to note the day before, International Condom Day (13 February), a day when the general public is reminded of the importance and benefits of using a condom and the correct way to use one.

A recent South African campaign noted that youth between the ages of 18- 24 admitted to having unprotected sex occasionally and saw condoms as “uncool” sensually limiting.

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Furthermore, AHF last year engaged in open discussion research with the youth of various communities and were shocked by the sources of information that many young people used to learn about sex and condom usage – many use porn sites such as PornHub or get information on sex from friends.

“Our key message remains that condoms are ‘Always in Fashion’, regardless of how long you have been with and how well you think you know your intimate partner. Condom use is critical,” says Hilary Thulare, Country Programme Director at AHF South Africa.

“Durex conducted a global survey among 18-24-year-olds and the disturbing result was that more than half the participants admitted to having unprotected sex at least once, re-enforcing the importance of spreading the message of using a condom when engaging in sexual activities,” she says.

International Condom Day, which falls under STI/Condom and Pregnancy Awareness Week in South Africa, will also be the day that AHF unveils its 2018 International Condom Day song, Tried and True, a parody of Ed Sheeran’s chart-topping hit single Shape of You, to pump up enthusiasm at events.

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“Condoms are under attack in the realm of global public health, with governments and international agencies slashing funds,” said AHF Chief of Global Policy, Advocacy and Marketing Terri Ford. “This will most likely lead to more infections worldwide — but thankfully, International Condom Day is a way to reinvigorate the message that condoms are a fun and fashionable way to protect oneself and one’s partner while reinforcing the tenet that condoms should be available for free to anyone who needs them.”

A UNAIDS and UNFPA joint paper reads: “Despite the low cost of condoms, international funding for condom procurement in sub-Saharan Africa has stagnated in recent years.”