The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Community News Network

April 23, 2014

Cuba is running out of condoms

WASHINGTON — Cubans have grown accustomed to shortages. From food staples to energy to toilet paper, basic goods regularly become unavailable due to the island's isolation from key international markets.

The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

 In 2012, when millions of condoms imported from China were set to expire, the government ruled that the expiration labels were incorrect and that they should be re-dated for 2014. The ensuing backlog pushed up the price of a condom from a few cents to about $1.30 (a day's earnings for the average Cuban), and is the proximate cause for the current shortage.

Cuban bloggers first started reporting the scarcity last month, when pharmacies in one central province began running out of the government-subsidized condoms. Now, the shortages have reached Havana suburbs (where Cubans apparently also frequently use condoms to smuggle cheap rum into nightclubs).

The city of Santa Clara is perhaps the worst affected and has the highest rates of HIV in the country. Although the Cuban government has made no official statements, the state-run sex education center Cenesex is attempting to redirect scarce supplies to areas of greatest need, including specifically to HIV-positive people.

The World Health Organization, among others, has praised Cuba for its successes in promoting sexual health. The island nation has one of the lowest rates of HIV/AIDS in the Western Hemisphere, on par with Finland and Singapore. Those levels are due, in part, to the free universal health care Cuba provides, which includes extensive HIV testing and "graphic" sex education, according to The New York Times.

The achievement is also thanks to some harsh and heavy-handed policies the state has enacted in the name of public health: until 1993, for instance, anyone who tested positive for HIV was forcibly quarantined.

But in general, medical care is known to be quite good in Cuba. Despite large-scale poverty problems, Cubans' life expectancy at birth is higher than Americans'. The U.S. embargo, however, has dealt hard blows.

 In one of the most comprehensive studies on the issue, the American Association for World Health wrote in 1997: "the U.S. embargo of Cuba has dramatically harmed the health and nutrition of large numbers of ordinary Cuban citizens." After the embargo was tightened in 1992, "the number of unmet medical needs - patients going without essential drugs or doctors performing medical procedures without adequate equipment - has sharply accelerated." More recently, Amnesty International and the United Nations have reported that the problem persists.

Now, Cuba's remarkable achievements in keeping HIV/AIDS rates low -- admittedly by unethical means, at times -- are now imperiled, not by a dearth of advanced medical treatment, but because of a scarcity of the most basic and inexpensive sexual health product.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014