One size doesn't fit all

Free condoms sent to Africa are often too small for the local population.

By Jack Boulware

Published November 16, 2000 8:14PM (EST)

The United States and other countries recently donated condoms to the African nation of Swaziland, but it was found the prophylactics were ineffectual because they were too small for the well-endowed local males.

At an HIV-AIDS crisis committee meeting of Swaziland leaders this week, member of Parliament Majahodvwa Dlamini told the conference the free rubbers were nice, but unfortunately the wrong size for the large-penised population.

"They are just too small for us, and therefore tear when used," said Dlamini. "It is very confusing because it has got to the point where people are now warning us not to use them."

Condoms are more important than ever to the nation of 1 million people, where more than 25 percent of the population is reported to be HIV-positive. The government has begun a national survey, asking which kinds of condoms are most trusted and used by citizens.

The problem of breaking condoms was discussed among the 30 members of Parliament and traditional leaders. Was breaking occurring because the condoms were stored incorrectly, or used after their expiration dates? What should be done with the small condoms that do not fit penises? Beatrice Dlamini, representative from the Swaziland National AIDS Program, reminded the group that they needed to think in practical terms. The smaller condoms could be used by Swazis with smaller-sized penises.

"Those that can should use these condoms," Dlamini told the meeting, "because they were sent to us by foreign donors and it would be very rude to send them back."

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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