Health4Men staff display the black condom

Health4Men has launched an innovative ‘black condom’ that looks more natural when used by the majority of South African men.

The organisation, which targets the health needs of men who have sex with men (MSM), said that the condoms had received an overwhelmingly positive response.

“No more discrimination, now there is a white and a black condom’’, one man said. “The choice is yours’’ added another, “black is beautiful’’.

A gay man in Gugulethu asked, “Why didn’t someone do this before to make condoms look more natural?”

The condom’s introduction on World AIDS Day saw the Health4Men team scrambling for more stock as the public snatched up around 18,000 black condoms in Cape Town and township areas such as Khayelitsha, Langa and Gugulethu, and in various points in Soweto.

Health4Men programme manager Glenn de Swardt emphasised the role the condoms had to play in a society feeling the effects of ‘condom fatigue’.

“Men, women and even parents are coming to ask about and collect the black condoms, these are condoms that people want to take home and use. And that means people will be making the choice to have safer sex,” he said.

In spite of advances in the treatment and management of HIV, the consistent use of condoms and water-based lubricant, and reducing the number of sexual partners, remain the public’s most essential tools to combat HIV transmission, de Swardt explained.

“We’re trying to make free condoms and water-based lubricant more accessible within disadvantaged communities, especially to MSM who engage in anal sex.”

In the month leading up to World AIDS Day, Health4Men said that it had distributed a whopping 78, 000 condoms in Cape Town and 34, 000 in Soweto and Johannesburg.

This was accomplished in part by establishing partnerships with township-based taverns and shebeens, which have become conduits for distribution of condoms, free water-based lubricant sachets and educational posters and pamphlets.

Health4Men is a project of the Anova Health Institute and funded by PEPFAR through USAID. It has established Africa’s first two public-sector clinics, in Cape Town and Soweto, dedicated to MSM, offering comprehensive free healthcare services including ARV treatment.

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