The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) on Thursday launched a new advocacy campaign to introduce condom emojis across all digital platforms.
An emoji is a pictogram, logogram, ideogram or smiley embedded in text and used in electronic messages and web pages.
The primary function of emoji is to fill in emotional cues otherwise missing from typed conversation.
Dr Echey Ijezie, AHF Nigeria Country Program Director, in a statement, said the organisation would continue to support the National Condom Policy of Government by broadening access of Nigerians to condoms.
This, he noted, was the most affordable, effective means of preventing sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and unplanned pregnancies.
He said AHF Nigeria had distributed over 20 million free condoms in Nigeria.
He said this campaign, as part of activities to commemorate the 2022 International Condom Day, would include a walk to create awareness and distribute free condoms, and provide free HIV testing to residents of Ikom, Cross River state.
“This walk is in collaboration with the Cross River State Ministry of Health, while there is also a media component that sees safe sex education on airwaves.
“In Abuja, AHF Nigeria is partnering with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) for a night event on Valentine’s day to distribute free condoms and also test people for HIV.
“Also in Abuja, AHF Nigeria Girls Act members shall be reaching their peers with condom education and tips on safer sex practices.
“Across other AHF Nigeria states of: Benue, Kogi, Anambra, Nasarawa and Akwa Ibom, our teams shall be conducting free HIV testing and give out free condoms to the people”.
The statement quotes AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy, Terri Ford, as saying it was time to drop the stigma around condoms and make it easier to communicate about having safer sex.
“Introducing a condom emoji across all digital platforms would be a fun and creative way to do that. We must speak the language that reaches young people who are most at risk.
“Additionally, like with COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic continues to create even more barriers to condom access for millions of people globally.
“Governments and public health institutions must make access to free or affordable condoms a top priority since they’re the most affordable way to prevent HIV, other STIs, and unplanned pregnancies.”
From eggplants and peaches to bananas and tacos, and everything in between, emojis have become commonplace in sex texting (sexting) conversations.
An estimated 1 million people worldwide acquire a sexually transmitted infection (STI) every day, and there are still 1.5 million new HIV transmissions annually around the globe.