Global Efforts to Combat AIDS Inhibited By Decreasing Condom Donations
Declining condom donations are inhibiting efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in the developing world, the New York Times reports. Annual donations of condoms to the world's poorest countries have declined from 970 million to 950 million in the last 10 years, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Many factors have contributed to the condom donation shortage, such as a lack of public discussion of the situation, changing foreign aid priorities, laws that increase prices, distribution problems in poor countries and religious resistance, the Times reports. In particular, U.S. donations have declined - from 800 million condoms in 1990 to 360 million in 2000 -- because several major condom recipients "became ineligible" for foreign aid because of wars and coups and because "buy-American laws" increased condom prices. The United Nations and European aid agencies have increased their donations to cover the shortage, but donations remain "deeply inadequate," the Times reports. UNFPA estimates that developing nations need 10 billion condoms annually and could need up to twice that amount by 2015. In addition to condoms, developing countries require $1.2 billion for distribution and education campaigns to dispel "widely accepted rumors" that all condoms contain the AIDS virus and that the wrong size condom will injure the penis, as well as to dispell the association of condom use with prostitution and "dirty sex." Public health officials hope to make condoms as easily accessible and "widely distributed" as other products in the "smallest village shop in Africa or Asia." Terri Barlett, vice president of Population Action International, said, "Cigarettes can get to the most remote corners of the world. So should condoms" (McNeil, New York Times, 10/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.