Improved Supply Chain and Retailers’ Commitment Expands Condom Access in Guyana
“If the shops where I live were selling condoms, I would not have gotten HIV. I went out to look for condoms but couldn’t get any to buy, so I took a chance,” said an HIV-positive beneficiary of USAID’s Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Program, phase II (GHARP II).
This man’s experience is common in Guyana, where many communities do not have pharmacies, supermarkets, or gas stations—places where condoms are traditionally sold. Furthermore, most traditional outlets operate within normal working hours, but many people don’t seek out condoms until later in the evening. Realizing this, the PEPFAR-funded, USAID-implemented project, GHARP I, led by Family Health International (FHI) and in partnership with the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC), Cicatelli Associates Inc., and Howard Delafield International (HDI), and Management Sciences for Health (MSH), initiated a condom marketing and distribution program that procured condoms from local private sector distributors and resold them to smaller retail outlets in communities where condom outlets were not available.
In 2009, the project entered its second phase, GHARP II, led by MSH and in partnership with HDI and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. With collateral from HDI, GHARP II continued the condom distribution program through a revolving fund and expanded the pool of nontraditional retailers to include bars and brothels. This expanded Guyana’s private sector condom distribution into the hinterland communities and increased the number of retail outlets supplying condoms from 240, at the beginning of GHARP I, to 1,081 by the close of GHARP II.
Before closing the condom program in March 2011, GHARP II integrated the condom supply chain into the private sector to ensure that sub-distributors were supplying the smaller outlets. Then, in June 2012, GHARP II conducted an assessment to measure whether the private sector commitments were being sustained. The assessment found that 59 percent of retail outlets were still stocking condoms, and 62 percent of these were being supplied by the distributors and sub-distributors that GHARP II had worked with. The assessment also showed that the 38 percent of retailers who were not receiving condoms from the distributors were so motivated to maintain stock that they purchased condoms on their own. When surveyed, over 80 percent of retailers reported consumer demand for condoms as the main factor motivating them to continue stocking and selling condoms.
The owner of a mini mart in Region 7, a mining community, is pleased to see his customers’ positive response to the condom sales. “People know that they can get condoms here so they always come and ask for their favorite brands… The response from customers has been really favorable so we continue to sell condoms,” he said.
Although the condom distribution program has ended, GHARP II has continued to work with the National AIDS Program Secretariat (NAPS) to explore ways they can collaborate with the private sector to strengthen the supply chain and ensure condoms are readily available where and when they are needed most.