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
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.
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
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
"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.
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."