IN 2004, I questioned the effectiveness of condom in halting HIV/AIDS epidemic in PNG in The National.
I stated then that the good intentions of the condom have the potential to backfire and promote sexual promiscuity and adultery, and in the process, fuelling the epidemic.
Others quickly nullified this view with references to evidence from “research” that was conducted elsewhere in the world that showed otherwise.
In 1993, when I was working with the late Dr Carol Jenkins, the mother of NACS, I was tasked to distribute condoms on a large scale from Kassam Pass to Cow-Grass in Chuave.
I based my assumption on the basis of a number of experiences I have had with individuals and from the varied expressions and reactions at that time.
I will not deviate from my view that the condom contributes to infidelity, even though others will continue to counter till the cows come home.
This debate will continue on until a proper research is conducted among our own people with the one objective: Do condoms promote sexual infidelity?
If I had the powers, I would ride on the back of the coming national census to deal with that burning question.
The condom strategy was specifically designed for homosexuals, intravenous drug users and prison inmates in America and will not necessarily work for the general population in Papua New Guinea (it has not done so in Africa).
We do know that in countries where HIV has reached generalised epidemic status, the condom strategy alone is useless and has not been effective anywhere in the world.
The only success story for condom use is in reducing, but not eliminating, the risk of HIV transmission through studies on prostitutes and their clients.
I would appreciate if the response mechanisms in PNG support rather than rubbish or undermine risk avoidance strategies.
There is glaring evidence that condom use in PNG is inconsistent.
Inconsistent condom use does not protect against HIV infection.
We (the world) have yet to see generalised epidemics curbed based on condom use alone.
Risk avoidance strategies targeting youths and adults to refrain from sex outside marriage can have lasting impact and can be useful in the absence of condoms.
Contrary to foreign experts or donor advice, people can change their sexual behaviour if abstinence and being faithful are given equal emphasis with resource allocation as is been given to the condom strategy.
Risk avoidance strategies are not difficult, nothing mysterious or technical and their advantages in countries such as PNG are that they are in tune with our prevailing cultural and religious norms and ethics.
Furthermore, successful behaviour modification programmes are better achieved by working within the social and cultural norms and beliefs.
In this case, those with differing views on condoms are deadlocked on their beliefs offering a challenge to the authorities.
The chairman of the NACS will do well to be open-minded in his role.
He should consider getting religious leaders, medical experts and research scientists to a round table and task them to solve the problem of HIV/AIDS