Discussing the pros and cons of female condoms in a meeting today with a 50-something colleague I’d just met was slightly surreal. This is our new HIV & AIDS expert, and she is nothing like the person I’d imagined based on the rather stern, direct, e-mails she’d sent. “I like to be a little provocative”, she said, with a cheeky glint in her eye. At headquarters back in Europe she’s been giving out flavoured condoms and asking her (old and married) co-workers what they think of the passionfruit ones.
Anyway, my colleague is trying to launch our organisation’s HIV & AIDS workplace policy; apparently, we’re one of the last of the development aid agencies to even have one. Tanzania will be one of our first countries to start work. And according to the policy, where HIV prevalence is greater than one % , a ready supply of free condoms is to be provided (just over 5% of adults are HIV positive here).
I’m already wondering how my more cynical (mostly male, often chauvinistic in a jokey but not really joking kind of way) colleagues are going to react to safe sex talks and whatever else we organise. Though with the fairtrade-ecofriendly-organic-carbon-neutral condoms that’ll supposedly be on offer, you almost feel like it’d be morally wrong not to take a few home.