South African comedian David Kau has a column in the June 10 th edition of the new daily newspaper The Times. His article "Double-ply condoms for higher grades" is disturbing ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ and not just because it isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t funny, writes Joey Hasson in the JournAIDS blog.
Kau suggests that a solution for the high numbers of pregnancies among teenage girls in South Africa would be to supply them with double-ply condoms.
A sense of humour is essential in this world we live in – but not at the expense of being responsible.
Double-ply condoms do not exist. It is worrying that Kau suggests (twice) wearing two condoms, a practice counter-productive to even bothering to use a condom in the first place. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m rather surprised that sort of old myth slipped into print again. The editor obviously didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t seem to think it was problematic that the article reinforces the crazy idea that wearing two condoms doubles your chances of protection from HIV infection.
In fact, the article really doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t seem to have been edited at all. If it has been edited, then that is more worrying still. This kind of misinformation about HIV/AIDS does have serious implications. One canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t assume that everyone reading the paper will know itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a joke, even if a bad one. KauÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s article raises the question: Are there some things we just shouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t joke about? As Pieter Dirk-Uys has shown this isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t necessarily so. HIV and AIDS prevention messages can be conveyed in humorous ways and this can be a really effective way to reach young people. However, KauÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s article simply reinforces dangerous myths and stereotypes.
The most disturbing aspect about the piece is that all of this is coming from someone who ought to know better, and as a comedian, is without doubt a role model to countless young people out there. If there was one article young South Africans read in the whole newspaper, it was probably this one.