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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Big selling condoms a danger for all

Big selling condoms a danger for all

T HEY'RE hairy, pearly, or studded with bits of rubber. They promise a good time

but in reality are worthless protection against Aids and unwanted pregnancies.

Street vendors, nightclubs and dealers at the Russian market say they

are doing brisk business in a Thai brand of condom called 69 Deluxe (pictured

right).

Some of these "wild" condoms have threads sewn around the head,

others are studded with pearls and a third have small pieces of rubber attached

to the latex, supposedly giving more pleasure during intercourse.

The

stitched condoms have visible holes, while the pearls and rubber knobs can drop

off, breaking the condoms.

Experts warn that people who use them as

protection against sexually transmitted diseases and Acquired Immune Deficiency

Syndrome (Aids) are putting themselves in danger.

The Health Ministry

say that they can't stop people buying them.

"We don't have the means to

check all the brands available on the market. But these ones look dangerous,"

says Dr Bun Yai of the National Aids Programme office.

69 Deluxe are

rarely displayed. Customers have to ask for them by name, paying 1000 riel for

one.

A social worker in Kratie province said that some sex workers in

that province had already used these condoms, mostly at the insistence of the

customers.

"Most prostitutes are illiterate and don't know what is

written on the pack. It's pretty difficult to make them understand that they

should use good quality condoms and one time only. A few people have heard about

Aids, but the majority still confuse Aids with syphilis and don't understand

that although syphilis can be cured, Aids remains a deadly disease. And if they

don't want to be infected, they should use accurate protection, meaning condoms

made to European standards."

She adds: "The problem with the Khmer is

that they wrongly believe that the more a condom is expensive, the safer it is.

We can now find good quality condoms on the market at a very low price." Most

customers who buy them are young men, according to pharmacists and street

vendors. The comparatively high price is concerning social workers that men may

be re-using them.

"The 'hairy' condoms may cause severe lesions to the

mucus of the vagina and increase the transmission of diseases," warns Richard

Renas, a technical officer at the World Health Organization.

A foreign

biologist working in Cambodia said people "should not use these sex toys, which

are very dangerous. These kinds of condoms should be taken off the market."

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