I have no problem taking the condoms, said a man who had been a
taxi driver for 15 years. I don't use them with my wife, but I use them
with my girlfriends, always.
Another, who also claimed to use condoms with partners besides his wife, said he
had no problem finding condoms: There are so many - in the toilets, in the
taverns. I use a condom to protect myself from HIV or any kind of infection, but
there are other guys here that don't know about it. Some don't even know how to
open a packet of condoms.
Why must I use a condom? interjected one of the older men. If
you haven't got AIDS, you're still going to die of something.
An unmarried driver claimed he never used condoms because he didn't like the way
they felt. Asked if none of his girlfriends ever asked him to use one, he said:
No, I never met a girl like that.
I don't use condoms because I'm faithful to my wife, I don't have
girlfriends, said one of the younger drivers. But if I'm tempted, I
can use a condom - I don't have a problem - but usually I prefer buying them. I
believe that quality things are for sale, if they're for free they're not good
SOLOF's director and founder, Emma Hlophe, herself a former taxi driver, said
distrust of the free, government-brand condoms was fairly common. She was trying
to combat misconceptions by training a handful of drivers as peer educators and
counsellors. Between them they distributed close to 20,000 condoms a month,
mainly at taxi ranks but also at hotels frequented by sex workers and their
Solly Mlangeni, coordinator of the peer educators, noted that ignorance about
HIV and condom use among the taxi drivers was still rife: Sometimes they
refuse [the condoms]. They'll say, 'I'm not HIV positive, so why must I use a
The stigma that clings to the disease is another major barrier to prevention
SOLOF's volunteers keep toilets at the taxi rank stocked with condoms for those
who prefer not to be seen taking them and Mlangeni says a one-on-one
conversation in the privacy of a mini-bus taxi is often most effective in
persuading the drivers to attend SOLOF's drop-in clinic for voluntary
counselling and testing (VCT). Still, adds Mlangeni, he doesn't know of a single
driver who is open about his status, and six died last year because they
accessed treatment too late.