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Something cheap for Le Weekend?

Something cheap for Le Weekend?

作者:亢峰  时间:2019-03-01 05:08:00  人气:

By TARA PATEL in PARIS Results of a survey due to be published next month could spell the end for a troubled scheme by the French government to prevent the spread of HIV. Health minister Philippe Douste-Blazy dreamt up the ‘1-franc condom’ to convince more couples to practise safe sex. But the scheme was late starting, stocks in the shops have run out, and condom manufacturers say they will opt out if next month’s assessment of the project does not show that more people are using their products. Douste-Blazy announced his plan last June, saying that France has more people with AIDS than any other country in the European Union, and that about a quarter of those people are between the ages of 20 and 29. The French use fewer condoms than other Europeans. In a recent survey, only 55 per cent of young French people who said they had had sex in the previous 12 months claimed to have used a condom. The minister’s plan was for condom makers, wholesalers and pharmacists to waive their profits in order to provide individual condoms for 1 franc (12 pence) each. But Douste-Blazy failed to consult these groups before making his announcement, so it took some months to put the plan into practice. The first 7 million condoms reached pharmacies only in December. Since then, consumers have had the choice of 1-franc condoms or opting for standard brands, which cost about four times as much. A TV programme earlier this month told viewers repeatedly that 1-franc condoms have made it cheap to practise safe sex. But finding a cut-price condom is almost impossible. According to the health ministry, only 70 per cent of pharmacies agreed to stock them in the first place; retailers make about 300 per cent profit on standard-priced condoms. But even in shops that agreed to sell them, supplies have now dried up because of a legal hiccup. French law states that condoms must be sold with instructions on how to use them, which are usually inside the box. Douste-Blazy ordered a special exception to be made to allow the first 7 million cut-price condoms to be sold individually, without instructions. These are all but gone, and the government’s attempts to change the law permanently have been delayed. If next month’s assessment does not show that more people have begun to use condoms, some manufacturers and wholesalers may give up on the scheme completely. Paul Gelbhart of the Federation of Pharmacy Unions of France says his members who are taking part in the scheme have not decided whether to continue their support. Bas Rijks, managing director in France of LRC, the maker of Durex condoms, says sales of all condoms rose slightly at the end of last year, but fell dramatically in January, suggesting that people had stocked up with the cheap condoms. He says the programme has failed to expand the market for condoms, and that it has simply given people who used them regularly a good deal. If this is confirmed,