Everyone is familiar with St. Valentine’s Day, a day celebrated worldwide. A day that initially commemorated the death of a brave martyr who was imprisoned and executed for performing weddings for soldiers who had been prohibited to marry. The day was later in history attributed to romantic love and today it is a day where chocolates, sweets, cards and flowers are presented by lovers or admirers. This should explain the dozens of tents of rose flowers erected in the Central Business District.
There is however an informal holiday observed in conjunction with Valentine’s day on the 13th of February. International Condom Day is marked by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF, by distribution of free condoms, safer sex awareness events and media campaigns. This year’s International Condom Day will be marked in 13 countries including kenya. Other countries participating in the celebration include South Africa, Swaziland, Cambodia, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine and the USA.
Kenya participates by ‘love condom’ billboards which are aimed at creating awareness on safer sex, free testing events and free condom giveaways. If you have not spotted the billboards you must have seen the ‘love condom’ posters that are up in most campus notice boards. The University of Nairobi Lower Kabete campus is active in this campaign with posters put up around the school. The process of dishing out condoms started at dawn (well, 9am is a bit early in campus).
The informal holiday is geared at promoting prevention of the killer disease, AIDS and is strategically placed before Valentine’s Day to make the message of loving oneself and one’s partner more effective. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation stresses the importance of condoms as they are a proven and affordable method of prevention. The holiday is celebrated by distributing condoms since even though there is sufficient awareness on the use of condoms most people tend to shy away from purchasing them and in some areas the accessibility to condoms is limited.
An international condom day is undoubtedly a great way to usher in the holiday of love. Happy International Condom Day and Happy Valentine’s Day!