Why Are Condoms So Expensive in Venezuela Right Now?

Condoms (Prevention Justice)

Condoms (Prevention Justice)

Happy Friday!

Apropos of National Condom Week: Would you pay $755 for a box of condoms?

That’s insane, right? But right now, sexually-active and contraception-conscious Venezuelans don’t have much of a choice. That’s how much a 36-pack of Trojan condoms is going for. With the exchange rate, it works out to be $20+ per condom. If you’re shopping around, a 24-back of Durex condoms is selling for $317, making it the (slightly) more economical choice of $13+ per condom. (For context, this is about $10 more than the country’s standard black market rate.)

This is really alarming when you consider that the country’s minimum monthly wage is $888.24.

The Venezuelan people literally cannot afford to have safe sex.

The reason behind these sky-high prices? Oil.

Venezuela exports a lot of the stuff, using it to bring in around 95% of foreign earnings. But oil prices have fallen dramatically recently (over 60% drop within the past seven months), leading to fewer earnings for the country. This, in turn, inhibits Venezuela’s ability to import other basic goods (such as chicken, milk and corn), since their money doesn’t stretch as far. The Bank of America Corporation estimates the the country will import 42% less in earnings than it did in 2012.

Condoms aren’t the only contraceptive that’s hard to come by within the country. Birth control pills are also in high demand, and are very hard to find right now.

According to “Bloomberg Business,” the shortages began in late December, when the Venezuelan government “tightened dollar disbursements amid sliding oil revenue.” The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation offered the following observation:

No condoms were available in 10 eastern and central Caracas pharmacies visited in late January, compared with as many as 20 different kinds available at some locations in November, including Reckitt Benckiser Group plc’s Durex and Church & Dwight Co.’s Trojan brands.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was attempting to fix this problem before it started: Last June, he announced that the government was building a condom factory to meet the country’s demand. But since then, customers disliked the quality of the condoms, and demand often outpaced supply.

Another factor in this saga is Venezuela’s own sexual health stats. According to a 2012 World Bank study, the country has the fifth-highest number of teen pregnancies out of the 21 Latin America countries. (This averages out to be 88+ live births for women ages 15-19 for every 1K women.) It also has the fourth-highest number of people living with AIDS on the continent.

If this condom (and birth control) shortage continues, it’ll impact Venezuela’s teen pregnancy and AIDS population for the worse. As prices rise, people will become more inclined to completely forgo any birth control method, and the government might not be able to support the overwhelming resulting birth rate. Let’s hope a solution arrives before these things come to pass.

I’m just thankful condoms are not only cheaper than a child, but also cheaper than a month’s rent.

Advertisements

Trojan 2014 Sexual Health Report Card: By The Numbers

Trojan 2014 Sexual Health Report Card (via Twitter)

Trojan 2014 Sexual Health Report Card (via Twitter)

Earlier this year, Trojan (the condom brand, duh) released its 2014 Sexual Health Report Card. Now in its ninth year, the Report Card measures sexual health resources for 140 colleges selected from the Bowl Championship Series. Scoring categories include student health centers’ access to quality information, STI and HIV testing and condom and contraceptive availability, among other points.

This year, PAC-12 school Oregon State wrested the #1 spot from Princeton University. As the Report Card notes, the top spot has typically vacillated between the Ivy League and the Big Ten. The PAC-12 also took spots #4 (University of Arizona) and #5 (Stanford) in the top 10.

I wanted to see if there were any discernible patterns within the data, so I crunched some numbers and played with some pivot tables.

By College Conference:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: College Conferences

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: College Conferences

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) took the top spot for conferences with 15 entries, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) came in tied second with the Big Ten with 14 entries each. The Mid-American and PAC-12 conferences each have 12. Conference USA boasts 11 schools, and the American, Big 12 and Mountain West schools each have 10 schools.

The ACC, SEC and Ivy League all had each of its schools place within the rankings.

 

By School Type:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: School Type

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: School Type

Over 76% of ranked schools were public schools, and 22% of schools were private. Ivies comprised over 25% of private schools listed.

Virginia Tech was categorized as public and military, and University of Pittsburgh was public and private.

 

By State:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: States

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: States

Texas boasts 11 schools ranked, while Ohio has eight schools for second place. California and Florida tie with seven schools each. Louisiana has six, and Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York and North Carolina each have five schools represented.

On the other end of the scale, several states are one-hit wonders: Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., and Wyoming.

By Region:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: Region

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: Region

Here’s something interesting: The South makes up 42%+ of the report’s regional breakdown. I didn’t expect that considering the region’s traditionally rocky relationship with sex education.

By contrast, the Northeast comprises only 14%+.

 

Past Winners:

In the report card’s nine years of age, Ivy League schools have taken the crown four times: Yale (2006, inaugural year), Columbia (2010 and 2011), and Princeton (2013).

Columbia and Princeton have previously topped the list despite not having school-wide Sex Weeks.

Some previous winners have precipitously descended the list since their banner year. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities made #1 in 2007, but has since slid to #24, a rate of 2.8+ spots per year. University of South Carolina-Columbia topped the list in 2009, and is now 29, sliding down the list at a much faster 5+ spots a year. Yale descended to #44 this year, sliding the fastest at 5.3+ spots per year.

 

Interesting Outliers:

Despite Trojan’s claim to show schools from all 50 states in their report, Alaska is conspicuously absent.

Only one HBCU (historically black college or university) made the cut: Savannah State University in Savannah, Georgia. The school came in at #133. Savannah State has made the list before, ranking #134 in 2013.

Indiana University-Bloomington checks in at #36. This wouldn’t be weird except the university houses the Kinsey Institute. You’d think sexual health would be a priority considering it’s apparently lucrative research.

 

Methodology:

Trojan outlined the criteria they look for within the report (and even leave room for extra credit), and they’ve ranked schools on a 4.0 scale before. I’d like to learn more transparency about how the different factors were selected and weighted in terms of priority.

One weird thing was that the University of Alabama was listed twice, ranked both #30 and #120. This was confusing and will need to be corrected for future report cards.

 

Final Thoughts:

I’d love to see more diversity of school represented. It’d be great to see other HBCUs (Spelman, Morehouse, etc.) and art schools (Pratt Institute, RISD, etc.). The National Center for Education Statistics puts the number of four-year colleges at 2.8K+ (as of 2010-2011), and it’d be fantastic to see a wider swath of schools surveyed.