Day 135: Selling Condoms in the Congo

The HIV prevalence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is 1.3%. In a country with 76 million people, this equates to over 900,000 people, of whom less than a quarter have access to anti- retroviral drugs. In this short talk Stanford director of health Amy Lockwood explains why people don’t buy condoms.
Charitable organisations have long provided the DRC with free or low cost condoms, yet hotel owners say they don’t sell them due to lack of demand and pharmacy owners say customers prefer the non- branded option. Lockwood shows us examples of the packaging to demonstrate why. The predominant emotional message depicted is that of fear. There are messages about preventing infection and slogans about protecting your partner. None of these, Lockwood points out, are what the consumer thinks about prior to getting a condom. What they think about, is sex.
Lockwood points out that these campaigns are lauded at home; in government organisations, media and through not for profits. But maybe if we’re serious about preventing against HIV we need to look at the message the consumer wants to hear.


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