Free condoms distributed to reduce the spread of HIV in South Africa are being used by the elderly in attempts to relieve arthritis, according to a government official.
Mpumalanga district health chief Candith Mashego-Dlamini issued a statement asking people to stop rubbing the contraceptives on their knees to ease joint pain.
“MEC (Member of the Executive Council) Mashego-Dlamini was discouraging the elderly when she heard about them rubbing their knees with condoms.
“She called on those who were practising to stop as condoms are meant for something other than rubbing knees,'' her spokesman Ronnie Masilela told the South African Times.
South African health minister Aaron Motsoaledi also spoke out on the issue, telling the public there was “no scientific evidence” to suggest condom lubricant can cure arthritis.
“We are appealing to members of the public not to use condoms for any other reason than that for which they are intended,” his spokesman added.
But a Cape Town grandmother told the Times she had been using condoms on her joints for three years.
"It is not a cure for my arthritis, but it eases the pain,'' she said.
The paper reported that condoms were also used to clean CDs, shine shoes and even to carry water while hiking.
Millions of free condoms are distributed every year through South Africa in government and charity-funded projects to stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.
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