The world is today celebrating International Condom Day (ICD), a global holiday marked every February 13 to promote safer sex.
ICD was created in 2009 by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AIF) to promote awareness of the use of condoms to prevent unplanned pregnancies and transmission of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV.
The holiday is widely recognised by many international public health institutions, including the World Health Organisation and Kenya's National Syndemic Disease Control Council (NSDCC).
The celebrations come a day before the world celebrates Valentine's Day, a special moment when people express love and affection to each other with greetings and gifts.
The timing is deliberate and serves as a reminder of the importance of safe sex practices and contraception for those in romantic relationships.
On this day, AHF teams in more than 40 countries hold events to educate on condom use, distribute free condoms, and encourage everyone to start or continue using condoms regularly.
In Kenya, NSDCC has organised a series of events to create awareness on the practice of safe sex on Valentine's Day and every other day.
The council has planned a major national event at Mathare Youth Sports Association grounds in Nairobi with calls to prioritise the conversation on safe sex.
Currently underway, the #InternationalCondomDay Caravan is moving from Umoja Health Centre to Mathare Youth Sports Association - MYSA Kenya, spreading awareness about responsible and safe sex for the prevention of HIV, STIs, and unintended pregnancies. #Saferissexy pic.twitter.com/XaV1jLVloY— NSDCC (@nsdcc_kenya) February 13, 2024
Various non-governmental organisations are also expected to visit some universities to sensitise students and members of the public on the importance of using protection ahead of Valentine's Day.
Last year, NSDCC marked the annual celebrations at Mount Kenya University (MKU) where experts demonstrated to the students how to use both male and female condoms.
The students marched through the streets with placards and banners bearing the message "Safer love is sexy".
"New #HIV infections among young people have increased for the first time in 10 years. Condoms have proven to be the most simple and cost-effective prevention option against HIV and unplanned pregnancies," NSDCC said.
"Why risk na HIV infections and other STIs unplanned when you can safely enjoy sex by correctly and consistently using a condom?"
In Homa Bay, students from Tom Mboya University received free boxes of condoms to mark International Condom Day amid a shortage of rubbers in the country.
The condoms were distributed by Non-Governmental Organisation Maisha Youth.