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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia burning through rubbers

Cambodia burning through rubbers

Twenty million condoms are not enough to protect Cambodia's sexually active population

and the country's leading distributor plans on increasing production.

Nguon Sovann, product manager for Population Services International (PSI), said that

10.7 million condoms have been sold between January and July this year, roughly on

track to match 2004 sales of 21.5 million condoms.

"The number of condoms sold are not enough to meet the market demand,"

said Dr. Nop Sotheara, PSI's external relations manager.

PSI estimates it has 85 percent of the condom market in Cambodia and wants to increase

sales to 23.5 million condoms by the end of 2005.

The not-for-profit organization imports condoms from Thailand, then repackages them

in Cambodia into their Number One and OK Condom brands.

The Number One brand, marketed towards sex workers and distributed in brothels, guesthouses

and karaoke bars easily outsells OK Condoms, which target married and "sweetheart"

couples.

"Number One condoms are very necessary for men to use with commercial sex workers,"

Sovann said.

While many other brands of condoms are available in Cambodia, the subsidized PSI

products are considerably cheaper, retailing at around 500 riel for a pack of four.

Phnom Penh is the biggest market for PSI products, but the organization works with

commercial distributors and 36 NGO partners to help selling condoms in the around

the country.

Mean Chhi Vun, director of National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD (NCHADS)

said the demand for condoms is about 25 million per year and estimated that this

amount will double in the next ten years.

According to a survey conducted by NCHADS in 1998, only 65 percent of men used condoms,

a rate that had increased to 97 percent in 2003, according to more recent studies.

The increased use of condoms in the sex industry has been credited with causing a

drop in HIV rates from 3 percent in 1998, to 2.1 percent in 2001 and down to 1.9

percent in 2003.

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