Viagra craze affecting Kenya HIV fight

October 15, 2009 12:00 am
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – The head of Kenya’s AIDS/STD control programme is now raising the red flag on possible failure of condom use campaigns following revelations by Capital News that teenagers were widely abusing sex enhancing drugs.

Dr Nicholas Muraguri, the Head of National AIDS/STD Control Programme (NASCOP) was reacting to a Capital News Exclusive report in which a 17-year-old student confessed to using Viagra pills on a regular basis to “boost his staying power” and impress his girl friends.

“The urge to show that you are a good performer most likely leads a person having multiple partners. The young person is likely to have unprotected sex,” he cautioned.

Dr Muraguri said increased liberalism levels in the country coupled with absentee parents were to blame for the new phenomenon.

“Nobody is watching to see how the young people are growing up; what they are reading, what they are watching. They have been left to learn on sexuality issues from pornographic materials, movies and house helps. As a society we need to seriously re-think our roles as parents and guardians!”

He noted that some of the herbal sex boosters in the country were fake and that manufacturers were raking in millions of shillings from unsuspecting customers.

“These products have over glorified performance and don’t have any scientific evidence to support their claims for enhancing sexual performance. Unfortunately the value people attach on sex and sometimes beauty makes them invest in such dubious products,” he stated.
 
“Some of these could be prescription-only drugs like Viagra for people suffering from erectile dysfunction while others are patented herbal supplements or traditional herbal aphrodisiacs that are purported to enhance sexual performance. The fact that they have a huge market means that it is easy for them to be accessed.”

He added that it was unfortunate that young, healthy boys were otherwise abusing these drugs without adequate knowledge of their effects.

“It becomes very sad when young people start abusing prescription-only drugs that are supposed to manage erectile dysfunctions because of the perceived benefit of sexual performance. It makes us wonder, in that situation do they ever think of HIV prevention?” he posed.

He held that sexual misinformation on such sex boosters and people’s pre-occupation with sexual matters were also to blame for the increase in the use of sexual enhancers in the country.

“People are consumed with sexual issues and sexuality is a life issue that needs to be discussed. However the risky behaviours that are associated with sexual activities particularly among young people are of concern to us. We need to empower young people with the right knowledge about some of these issues,” he said.

Dr Muraguri stated that these sexual enhancers especially those that were not prescribed by the doctor were dangerous to health.

“We do not know the quality of these things and the origins are sometimes unknown. This could be detrimental to young people’s health. Young people at that level, 15 to 24, should be thinking about education and sexual health issues as well but from a more informed perspective,” he explained.

On the increasing numbers of people suffering from HIV and AIDS, Dr Muraguri also cited early sexual encounters among Kenyans, inconsistent condom use and multiple partners.

“To reduce risk among young people we need to address a number of things. We should first delay their sexual debut. Educate them on the need for abstinence. If they cannot hold on, advise them to have single partners and constantly use protection during sexual encounters. It is well known that the early sexual exposure increases a young person’s vulnerability to STDs. So the longer we delay people starting sex, the better,” he said.

Dr Muraguri revealed that girls were especially vulnerable to the pandemic terming them defenseless. He added that the number of girls accessing morning after pills continued rising an indication that they had been exposed to unprotected sex.

“We are concerned about girls’ powerlessness when it comes to negotiating either when to have sex or on the use of condoms for HIV prevention. Some of them have been exposed to violence and forceful sexual encounters. In such situations people are unlikely to use condoms so we need to educate girls,” he noted.

Some of the herbal supplements include Niagra and Viagrax which are non prescription, are available online and are purported to enlarge the male member. These supplements are locally available and at a cheap and affordable price ranging from 100 shillings to as low as 30 shillings.

This comes after a shocking study on teenagers showed that girls as young as 12 were engaging in sexual activities for money.

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