Health centers in South Sudan's Jonglei state have run out of free condoms, authorities said Friday, warning that the condom shortage could lead to a sharp rise in HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the region.
Peter Malith, the state’s HIV coordinator, said the condoms ran out because the United Nations' program that was distributing them through a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis ran out of money.
“Since August, we have no condoms. In South Sudan in general we don’t have condoms. We do get condoms from the UNDP warehouse, but when the Global Fund got shut down because there is no money, we don’t have condoms in Bor town,” Malith said.
Jonglei's rate of HIV infection, 1.3 percent, is lower than the 2.6 percent infection rate in South Sudan as a whole.
But Malith warned that, without condoms, the rate will likely rise, especially in towns like Bor, the state capital, where the number of people living with HIV is higher than in other parts of the state.
"In Bor hospital when we test pregnant women – say we test 400, we get 10 pregnant women HIV-positive every month, meaning that HIV prevalence in Bor town is high,” Malith said.
Condoms are still available for purchase in shops, but many Jonglei youths say they do not feel comfortable buying them publicly, in a shop, preferring instead to get them for free at the clinic.
The state health team has held talks with the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) about the need to restart the condom distribution program.
According to the 2012 report on HIV/AIDS compiled by UNAIDS, the Joint U.N. Programme for HIV/AIDS, around 0.8 percent of adults aged 15-49 years worldwide are living with HIV. The rate is significantly higher in Sub-Saharan Africa, the hardest hit region in the world, where nearly one in every 20 adults (4.9 percent) is HIV-positive.