Condoms; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

 We certainly have come a long way. Originally condoms were made from animal bladders(read Reference: here), intestines and sheets of linen tied with ribbon! Despite the assumption that the condom is a modern invention, there is documented use of condoms, with the earliest ever found dating back to 1642.



In the early 19th century condoms were used to prevent the epidemic of syphilis but were a crude version of today’s condom, often falling off or breaking. Mass production from the 1850’s onwards saw the introduction to the lower classes. Many countries introduced laws banning their manufacture. However, people got around the prohibitions by purchasing from travelling merchants and following ‘make your own condom’ instructions!


The invention of latex over rubber, and factory automation techniques dropped the price of condoms making the market more competitive and giving most people access to them. By the thirties, all military workers were issued condoms as a standard practice, and STIs quickly dropped amongst soldiers!


The discovery of AIDS saw constant campaigns promoting the use of condoms. As a result, the use of condoms in Switzerland jumped 80% and in Britain 20%! Unfortunately, these crusades have all but stopped, and the use of the condom has dropped again. And while diseases such as syphilis and chlamydia can be cured (in the western world) with antibiotics if caught early enough, there are still many STIs that we can never come back from if we contract.


So if the condom has been around for centuries in various forms and condoms lower the transmission of HIV, why have 78 million people acquired HIV since the beginning of the pandemic? Why does someone contract AIDS every six seconds? There are two main reasons; a lack of preventative education and access in some people, and in others a lack of practising the preventative education they are lucky enough to have received.


As an example; women with a secondary school education are five times more likely to be informed on the topic of HIV and AIDS. Africa is the place where HIV is thought to have originated and is the worst affected by the epidemic, yet less than half of their people are educated to a secondary school level.


Nelson Mandela said "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world" and he was correct. However, education is of no benefit (and therefore the world cannot change) if we do not put what we have learned into practice.


A friendly reminder from Be Daring that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!



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