Kigali, though filled to the brim with permanent residing expats, is in many ways like a typical touristy vacation spot: opportunities for casual sex are lurking around every corner. Whether you are a mischievous player roaming the nightlife of the city, or in a more serious relationship, it is my sincere hope that you are practicing safe sex (unless I don’t like you, in which case you’re free to do whatever you want).
Compared to other African countries, Rwanda has a fairly low percentage of Aids (2,9% adult prevalence rate), but as we all now there are a myriad of other exotic STD’s out there, as well as the chance of ending up with a (super adorable, I’m sure) little baby. Following is a list of products and prices that might come in handy for those of you in need of prevention and/or ‘damage-control’.
If you are particularly picky about your condom brand, you should probably bring them from home, or have someone send you a packet or two of super-duper safe condoms. If not, the best place to get them is the pharmacy. The most trusted brand is Durex (Rwf 5,500 for a packet) and you can actually get this at Simba supermarket as well. Should you find yourself in a situation where the only option is some strawberry-scented neon-colored thing, it was most likely bought at Nakumatt. In this case, do what your head tells you… eh, that advice was aimed at girls… and yes, I do realize I just made the lamest joke ever.
Okay, I’m sorry – because it’s like totally discriminating of me to raise my eyebrows at this – but for the love of all things holy, let’s just stick to what we know! For those girls out there with a sexual partner who refuses to use a condom, and who feel the need to secretly protect themselves against STD’s, they are available at the pharmacy.
Now I feel badly for ridiculing this item, especially when the government has gone through all the trouble of making such decorative and informative road-side posters with pictures of them (yeah, I know, on a white background? Really?), but what’s done is done. And what’s written is written. So there.
In Rwanda, you do not need to have a doctor’s prescription to purchase birth control pills. Several brands are available at the pharmacies around town – Yasmin (Rwf 15,000) being the most reliable one. Other brands include Diane-35 (Rwf 8,500), Harmonet (Rwf 7,700), Microgynon (Rwf 3,600), and Mercilon (Rwf 6,700). All prices are for a month of pills.
In general, you should NOT trust your sexual partner until you both have gotten tested and shown each other the results, and even then you might want to continue using additional protection. This might seem overly paranoid (and some might even find it awkward and un-romantic to ask their partner to take a test with them), but it’s considered quite normal here. Besides, it’s better to be a healthy psycho than a daredevil with Aids… in most cases at least.
Products like the Depo-Provera shot, the Patch, contraceptive implants, and NuvaRing are not available in Kigali. You should take care of this in your home country, and be careful when you bring it into Rwanda. The Rwandan border authorities can be very strict when it comes to any (and all) medication, including foreign-looking contraceptives (such as the Depo-Provera shot and NuvaRing), so if you insist on using this type of contraceptives, make sure you have the prescription for it handy. If you are already using a long-term contraceptive such as an implant or a spiral, you might have trouble finding a health clinic that can remove it for you, so be aware of this if you are planning on staying for a long time.
In case you for some reason failed to protect yourself, fear not (unless, of course, you were contaminated with genital herpes or HIV, in which case, you are pretty much screwed – in both senses of the words, ha-ha! No, I know this is NOT a laughing matter…). Look out for our article on Unsafe Sex in Kigali, to learn what steps are available for you in ensuring you are out of danger. Coming soon, to a Kigali-related website near you!