for one another,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be your boyfriend.”
She says people could instead spend the day distributing gifts to orphanages.
“The day should be about spreading love to others,” she says.
She also doesn’t think that Valentine’s Day contributes to an increase in condom or contraceptive sales, a phenomenon cited by local retailers.
Kelechi Uwozo, a sales representative at a mini-mart located in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos state, says that condom sales rise every year on Valentine’s Day.
“Condom sales sometimes move,” Uwozo says. “It is not something you sell regularly. If I sell 10 normally, that day I may sell 40.”
Bose Adedeji, a sales representative at a pharmaceutical store in Ogba, a small community in Lagos, agrees with Uwozo on the increase in condom sales on Valentine’s Day. But she says that customers buy more female contraceptives than condoms on Feb. 14 and the day after.
Adedeji points at a stack of female contraceptives on a shelf in the store.
“Daily pill or morning-after pill for women is what normally move,” she says. “But for condom, it moves all the time.”
Funke Otaru, a program assistant at the Abuja office of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an international nongovernmental organization, says that the increase in condom sales on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that young people are actually using them.
“If you say condom use increases,” she says, “you actually do not follow them to their houses to know if they use those condoms. They could be picking those condoms from wherever they are and not using them.”
Precious-Promise Ilalokhoin, a youth counselor specializing in teenage-parent relationships, says there’s a misperception that many young people lose their virginity on Valentine’s Day. But she says that an increase in condom sales during the holiday doesn’t mean more people have sex for the first time that day.
To educate young people about their sexual and reproductive health, nongovernmental organizations hold sensitization programs for young people on Valentine’s Day.
Otaru says that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation organizes an annual event to mark the holiday. But this year, it centered the event around International Condom Day.
“Our event is geared towards the International Condoms Day, which is the 13 th, a day before the Valentine’s Day,” Otaru says. “But nevertheless, we have activities that will span through that week.”
Activities include voluntary HIV counseling and testing at mobile units stationed in the suburbs of Abuja, the national capital. Dancing will also provide entertainment while volunteers distribute educational materials and free condoms to participants.
“We are going to be training them how to use condom and all of that,” Otaru says.
Meanwhile, Ilalokhoin convenes more than 200 students at an annual seminar called “Sweeter than Sex” every Feb. 13.
“The Sweeter than Sex is a pre-Valentine event where we want to educate teenagers about sexual health, emotion, their body – everything that affect young people,” she says.
The program encourages young