Shelbyville Daily Union

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
  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014

  • weightloss.jpg The scales of injustice: Weight loss differs between men, women

    You're not imagining it: There really are differences between the way men and women diet, lose weight and respond to exercise.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Robin_Williams.jpg Williams among many who cracked jokes while fighting depression

    Robin Williams isn't the only comedian who has struggled with a disease suffered by an estimated 350 million people worldwide. Williams, a comedian known for his manic energy, committed suicide Aug. 11 at age 63.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drug dealers going corporate

    A top federal official on Tuesday said that 105 banks and credit unions are doing business with legal marijuana sellers, suggesting that federal rules giving financial institutions the go-ahead to provide services to dealers are starting to work.

    August 13, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes Lunch Bus Delivers Meals to Kids Out of School Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners Rockets Fired From Gaza, in Breach of Ceasefire Raw: Japanese Military Live Fire Exercise Police, Protesters Clash in Ferguson Independent Autopsy Reveals Michael Brown Wounds Nashville Embraces Motley Crue Obama: 'Time to Listen, Not Just Shout' Lawyer: Gov. Perry Indictment a 'Nasty Attack' Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine Iowa Man Builds Statue of a Golfer Out of Balls Assange Gets Cryptic About Leaving Embassy in UK Raw: Building Collapse in South Africa, 9 Dead Raw: Pope Francis Meets 'Comfort Women'
Poll

Should the minimum wage for workers be raised in Illinois?

Yes
No
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium