Home General Issues Sex Mis-Education: Virgin Power, Virgin Pride?

Sex Mis-Education: Virgin Power, Virgin Pride?


(Photo Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah)
I saw this billboard in Tamale, Northern Ghana and it reminds me of all that I hate about ineffectual sex education and bad messaging around the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

The implication is that if you’re a virgin you cannot catch HIV/AIDS. Not strictly true, is it? Afterall, sex is not the only way to become infected with HIV. My other issue with this ‘Virgin Power’ message is that it ignores one of the biggest risk factors for HIV/AIDS in this country. Married women in Ghana are at a greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS compared to their single sisters. Why? Simply because a lot of married women do not have autonomy over their own bodies and are unable to negotiate condom use with their husbands – husbands who very often have other wives/girlfriends/marriages. What’s the point in Virgin power when your husband/partner is not a virgin?


  1. Nana Kofi, I like this ad.

    True, sex is not the only way to acquire HIV/AIDS but it accounts for what %?? It’s by far the leading cause. If the youth at whom this msg is targeted would abstain from sex till much later in their lives, it would save Ghana some worry…and surely some money too.

    Virgin Power?…I like that too. As a young person, keeping your virginity is also being powerful and reponsible especially when the world makes virginity appear as lack of opportunity. Someone ought to stand up for virginity. And what’s more how does this translate into ingnoring the fact that married women are at more risk. I don’t see.

    What I see is, the solution to protecting married women – who will logically mostly have unprotected sex with their husbands – is for husbands to be faithful or at worst use plastics whenever they OPT to cheat. Preaching or not preaching virginity has no bearing on it.

    M’adwen nono.

  2. @NanaT, does virginity empower? if so, why not an ad touting the positive empowerment of virginity…It makes you drive faster, drink more beer, earn more money. Makes more sense than saying forgoing pleasure makes sense. Sex is good, pleasure is good, all competent people should have as much sex as they can, having protected sex is really empowering. You do something fun, you feel good, you can go on to do other cool things. Why do we feel so ashamed of sex that we conflate it with illness and disease. We should be encouraging fun safe sex.

    My ad would read like this:

    Teens, have beaucoup sex

    But do it right,

    Put a sock on it!

    I think that would be realistic and prevent a lot of heartache and worry.

  3. @Nana T – I believe you meant to address your comment to me and not Nana Kofi 🙂 I don’t have an issue with abstaining from sex – my issue is with the implication that abstinence = Avoiding HIV/AIDS. I also think people should make wise sexual choices and not feel pressured into giving up their virginity or being virgins for that matter.

    Re: ignoring the fact that married women are at a fairly high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS – I think that’s a message that needs to be pushed more. People shouldn’t assume that because they are married and having sex with only one person they are reducing their chances of catching HIV

    @Kofi A – Lol! I agree with you on conflating sex and disease

  4. @Nana Darkoa, I agree with your last point. I wish they would have a man’s picture in the ad, instead of a woman’s. I work in public health and I get so tired of these abstinence messages and the fact that they are only directed towards women. If women are supposed to be virgins until marriage, the same should apply to men. Who do they think these men are having sex with? Very frustrating. It’s the same way with family planning…the responsibility lies solely with the woman. If you have an extra bit of skin between your legs, you can hit-and-run as you please.

  5. A lot of these campains are insulting to those of us who were robbed of our virginities. Rub it in our faces why don’t you? Sometimes I wonder who the idiots are who come up with these ads and if they stop to think for a second about their effects on others. Yes, in a perfect world you would want your children to remain untouched till they are of an age to understand what they are doing. But then, the idea should be to educate people on safe sex before and after marriage. The idea that non virgins have no pride, the supposition that we’re going to get HIV…that’s ridiculous and as a nation (forget religion here) we should concentrate on geting the proper message accross. Use protection, get tested, be monoamorous and try not to swap bodily fluids with people. If you must do drugs, then be sure not to share needles etc. This nonsense of be a virging and prevent AIDS is bull. I know people who have got the disease from aunts and grandmothers who shared toothbrushes, and others who gave medical attention without realising they needed to put on gloves before touching a wound or inserting an anal suppository for a sick family member.

    Ghana needs to wake up! Instead of spreading knowledge, we’re spreading ignorant ideas that belong in the stone age!

  6. @Kofi. LOL! I get the drift.

    But some things in the world won’t change;
    the Quran or Bible… will never say “sex outside marriage is not sin”
    mum and dad and teacher will never stop being religious

    So how can sex be pleasurable when you fear mum and dad and teacher and friends will know and you don’t want anyone saying “you are a bad girl” and what’s worse, you lie that “I am a virgin” instead of proudly tell girls girls “I’ve been screwing the boys’ prefect”?

    It’s rather fun when you’re confident to walk to the pharmacy and buy rough rider and hang out with your partner and introduce them to e’one and kiss them in the pub and go on to spend the night together at your place without looking over your shoulders. It’s pleasurable when banging is FAIRLY guiltless.

    @ Nana Darkoa – Ehmm! Yes I meant you, not the competent photographer. As for the wise sexual choices paa die, hmmm! Even adults are doing raw 1 night stands. Will the youth know better? But hey! most are way way done exploring, we might as well beg them to get protected…free condoms everywhere. But conservative me prefers “ABSTAIN”.

    @ NanaM – I’m with you, we women should be spared kakra.

  7. LOL NanaT. The thing is, kids wil experiment no matter what you say or do. I’m all for letting thm know the options out there. Give them the entire birds and bees talk and let them make an educated decision. Campaining for something as important as HIV should not centre soley on abstaining and condom use. We’ve made it so the second someone hears that a person died of AIDS, they must have been promiscuous. This is a huge contributory factor to the ostracisation of HIV patients. If the people were educated properly and the shame,guilt and secrecy removed from sex and it’s related issues, in my opinion, the world would be a better place. Abstaining is all well and good. I reccomend it for those who can stomach it. But then I also insist the people on top stop assisting in making those who can’t abstain feel bad

  8. My very good friend once said “Why will you promise me 77 virgins in heaven. I don’t wanna be sore after it all so just give me some whores. At least they’ll know what they’re doing”.

    Now to something more serious, I am one of those people who strongly thinks “every whore was once a virgin”.

  9. I think too much irresponsible sex is happening around us in our communities and we have to use crude ways sometimes to address this irresponsiblity. If its virgin power that can get the message down and reduce the spread and save their souls why not. On a more serious note, Nana l agree with your submissions.

  10. @ NanaM – Its good to hear this from a health professional. What options are there for changing the system from within?

    @Daixy – Rape and Sexual Abuse, that’s a subject that I still haven’t managed to write on…if you ever feel inspired to write, feel free to send me the post to be considered for the blog

    @NanaT – Yep, I agree with ‘begging’ people to get protected 🙂

    @Daixy – Yes the whole issue around linking promiscuity to HIV/AIDS is a real challenge isn’t it?

    @Kinkidi – Huh? I’m trying to understand the latter quote. Every whore was once a virgin, so every ‘bad’ person was once good and so still has some good in them?

    @Naa – I agree with too much irresponsible sex taking place but I doubt very much as to whether the virgin power message is at all effective.

  11. @Daixy: “I know people who have got the disease from aunts and grandmothers who shared toothbrushes.”

    Is this possible? I’m confused.

    @Nana: Hi there. Been catching up on posts I’ve missed. Is there one on the vagina monologues that took place recently? I’ll have a look see. I wasn’t able to go see it but I showed the poster to my classes (I teach 9th-12th grade) and the responses were most interesting. Pce.

  12. Sex and HIV/Aids education is a worry in Africa and Indian Ocean. The worry for us in Mauritius is that Sex is still a taboo subject and is an issue which is not readily addressed by parents to their children. We tried to tackle this challenge by taking a totally different angle for an HIV/Aids prevention campaign in Mauritius. What we wanted to promote is RESPECT ! For yourself, and for others! We wanted youngsters and adults alike to thing about their sexual behaviour in general, and its consequences.
    We launched a quiz on Facebook, a video on YouTube.
    I invite you to visit the REspeCt page on Facebook, where you can see the video. Please give us your feedback. Thanks

  13. I have seen the signboard on the Tamale – Bolga road. I always remark at how thoughtless it is as the message it carries is so misplaced.
    Humans will always have sex. The task is how we ensure that those doing it will keep it safe. This will happen not through virginity but through education. Information will develop choice and most of all good choice. This is what should be promoted and not silly statements as ‘virgin power’ etc. Imagine a sign such as this in a society such as where it is where women lack choice and are mostly subservient to the whims of men. Would any virgin be safe there?


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