Condoms -- Now more than ever

Around 60% of married condom users in the world dwell in developed countries, especially in Japan where 45% of married women of reproductive age use condoms.  In developing countries, only 4% of married condom users use them for family planning.  In 1990, couples having sexual relations may have used an estimated 6000 million condoms, but this number falls very short of the >13,000 million condoms needed to protect people from unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and/or AIDS.  The public health community is faced with closing the gap between use and need.  The gap entails public access to, demand for, and use of condoms.  Therefore public health professionals need to promote condom use.  In Thailand, for example, humorous condom promotion has led to an increase in condom usage and in its availability.  They also must counsel and inform individuals so that they can use condoms correctly and consistently.  Obstacles to use exist, however, such as embarrassment in buying condoms.  Condoms should be university available at affordable prices.  For example, family planning clinics, job sites, public facilities, vending machines, and clients could distribute condoms.  Manufacturers must produce more condoms as the need arises and ensure their quality.  All condoms should at least meet the international standards set in 1990.  Some of the many ways to increase condom use involve policy makers who should eliminate all barriers to import or manufacture of condoms, government agencies which should provide condoms free of charge to those who cannot afford them, and the communication industry which should eliminate restrictions on condom advertising.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,Center for Communication Programs,Population Information Program