Visually impaired people in Zimbabwe have made a bold request to
government that condom packs be written in Braille to help them engage
in “safe sex”.
Through their association, the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) they say blind people risked “extermination” as many had been sold expired condoms.
“We will surely be exterminated by the Aids pandemic. The notion that people with visual impairments do not engage in sexual activities hence should be left out of programmes on HIV/AIDS should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves,” the association said.
They added, “We are also sexually active or even more active than able-bodied people and we need the same protection from the Aids scourge.”
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, he said, “should lead a
programme to make available condoms that are written in Braille to enable those of us who can read to read”. At present all condom packs , both male and female are written in English.
The association says the fact that there are no condoms written in Braille makes sex very risky to people with visual impairments claiming that they sometimes use expired condoms because the dates would have been written in letters they cannot read.
The Braille System is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write. Braille was devised in 1821 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman.
There is a growing number of blind people in Zimbabwe and conservative estimates put the figure at about 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s population. NASCOH says HIV/AIDS figures should also indicate prevelance rates
among their members.
In a recent interview with Irin, Alexander Phiri, the director-general of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled insisted that what is needed are “specially designed approaches focusing on people with disabilities, and in consultation with people with disabilities”.
Indeed, in the Southern African region, considered to habour some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infections, persons with disabilities (PWD) until recently were mostly ignored in HIV/AIDS campaigns and care. According to experts, this ommission, compounded by the fact that people with disabilities are among the poorest and most marginalized of all the world’s people, contributed in skyrocketing HIV/AIDS levels among PWDs.