AIDSfree: Kenya’s Condom King and his mission to combat HIV taboos
Young Kenyans’ ignorance around sex is helping to fuel infection. One man thinks he may have found an answer
When Stanley Ngara started teaching young Kenyans about safe sex he found many of those present too embarrassed to listen to his message on how they could avoid catching HIV.
Condoms were linked in their mind to prostitution. Having grown up in households where sex was a taboo subject, they could not face hearing him discuss its mechanisms in public. A new approach, he realised, was needed
Rather than the strait-laced manner adopted by many sexual health trainers, humour was required. At first he tried using puppets, but that still failed to fully engage. That was when he adopted his brash new alter ego: Africa’s King of Condoms.
“In Africa people don’t talk about sex,” the 45-year-old explained. “They do not talk about condoms. There is so much stigma. But because of the way I now dress, people wonder who I am. They want to know more.” Kenya has the joint fourth largest HIV epidemic in the world, with 1.5 million Kenyans living with HIV. The first case was detected in 1984, and by the mid-90s it was one of the major causes of illness in the country, putting strain on the healthcare system and economy.
Since then the Kenyan government has improved the situation. New annual infections are now a third of what they were at the peak of the epidemic, and the authorities have spent heavily to ensure that those affected have access to the latest treatments to try to prevent transmission.READ MORE