The government has rebranded the choice condoms due to a decrease in condom use. The decrease was revealed by the 2012 SA National HIV Prevalence Incidence and Behaviour Survey “In 2012 condom use by males and females across all age groups decreased to 36.2%, returning to levels similar to those recorded in 2005 (35.4%), a peak having been observed in 2008 (45.1%),” the survey read. Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi was concerned by this trend and a perceptions study was done on Choice condoms.
Country director at the Society for Family Health (SFH), Miriam Mhazo, said the survey’s findings showed that the public did not like the Choice condoms’ rubbery smell; complained they were of poor quality; vulnerable to bursting compared to other condom brands, and lacked variety. “They also said the condoms lacked status – if you wanted to impress your partner the Choice condoms were not the ones to use.” It was also found that respondents did not use condoms for other personal reasons such as trusting their partners.
The respondents said they wanted a new condom that was of good quality; smelt good; had different flavours and scents; and came in different sizes, and strawberry was their favourite flavour. Thus Choice became Max which could mean maximum pleasure, quality and protection. The new condoms were launched by Motsoaledi last month. The condoms come with four scents – strawberry, grape, banana and original. Mhazo said they are available in all provinces.
In 2014, a new grape-scented condom was piloted in institutions of higher learning. “About 50 million condoms were bought by higher Education and Training for the pilot project,” Mhaza said. The results were that people did not have the rubbery smell after sexual activity and did not mind being seen with the scented condom “However, the name still carried baggage,” she said.
“The hope is that when the next national HIV survey is done we will see a difference,” Mhazo said. She said they were hoping that there would be reduced HIV infections; reduced unplanned pregnancies; and reduced sexually transmitted illnesses. “I have to say this should be a condom they would be proud to be using,” she said. She also applauded the government for changing the branding of the condom and adding scents in response to a decline in condom use.
Written by Nomaswazi Nkosi Rewritten by Songezo Ndlendle