By Mr Gerald

Who would have thought that one day teenagers would be encouraged to use condoms, especially in Africa, where talking about sex is a taboo? Well, when push comes to shove, what has to be done has to be done – even if it requires distributing condoms among high school students who are mostly teenagers.

According to the Liberia Demographic Health Survey, four out of every 10 girls are pregnant before age 18. Sadly, many teens and young adults engage in risky sexual behavior that increases their vulnerability to unplanned pregnancy, HIV and quite recently, the Ebola Virus Disease, which is also a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Unplanned pregnancy and poor health outcomes are associated with lower earning potential, higher dependency ratios and higher rates of poverty.

This is why last week, a six-month national condom campaign was launched by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Government of Liberia and other partners under the theme “Use Condoms, Stay Safe.” The purpose of this program was to promote “Safe sex” among teens and adults by making condoms available, affordable and accessible. The event was marked by the distribution of condoms within schools and the general public, including commercial and private vehicles on the street.

Varney Wilson, a youth advocate working with the Pan African Youth Leaders Network – ROJALNU Liberia says: “It saddens me to know that Liberia is one of the countries with the highest number of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality in Africa.” He applauded the efforts by the government of Liberia and partners in making condoms available. He further noted that with the availability of condoms to youth, they’ll have the opportunity to plan their future and live their dreams.

Promisingly, some parents like Maima also joined the campaign. She recently gave a box of condoms to her 16 year old son. Maima said “Two weeks ago, my son told me that he now had a girlfriend.” She wasn’t too happy about the news, but knew that whether she liked it or not, there was a high possibility of her son having sex next. Maima knew getting angry wouldn’t prevent her assumption. The following day, she got a box of condom from the drug store and gave it to him, saying: “Son, I am not saying you should go and have sex with your girlfriend. But, I am also not saying that I am ready to be a grandmother.”

On the flip side of the coin, though condoms are gradually being made available to youth, some still choose not to use it. They argue that it decreases their sexual pleasure. If you feel this way, know that apart from abstinence, condom once used consistently and effectively, it is the second most effective method of preventing pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Why risk a lifetime of happiness for a moment of pleasure?

This blog post was originally created for UNICEF’s Voices of Youth. The post is shared through a partnership with the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth to further amplify the voices of young people.

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