The Chinese are becoming more health conscious, and many industries are benefiting from this. In particular, condom manufacturers have experienced “unprecedented growth” as a result of China’s increased awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and new government sanctioned sex-education reforms.
According to Bloomberg, which cited a report by Global Industry Analysts, approximately 9.2 million condoms were sold last year, and projections are only expected to increase. “It will be a huge and growing market for a long time to come," Mickie Leong, the head of the China sector of Ansell, an Australian company that owns a Chinese condom brand. “As consumers become more educated and more liberal, they consequently understand the need for safety, prevention and happiness all in one.”
The San Jose-based research company, Global Industry Analysts, says the numbers will reflect it too. Projections show that sales will reach 14.6 billion by 2018, exceptional growth that would be a result of the government’s increased spending on reproductive health care products in addition to sex-education in schools.
According to a 2009 survey by the Peking University’s Institute of Population Research, less than 40 percent of Chinese people aged 15 and 24 received sex education at school. This is slowly changing, at least for some of China’s college students in Beijing. At Tsinghua University, located in the capital city, a vending machine was recently installed that dispenses condoms at no charge in addition to some free advice on safe sex on a screen. Authorities in North-central Anhui province have installed similar machines in their capital city, Hefei, as well. One of the nine that have been dispersed all over the city is on campus at the Anhui Agricultural University.
Many of those that attend universities equipped with the contraceptive welcome the addition. “It’s necessary that the school has something like this,” Guo Si, a freshman at a Beijing University, told Bloomberg. “When you’re in university and you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, sex will come naturally.”
Guo said the first time she held a condom was a month before she turned 20. She only did so because she was rolling a condom over a banana during one of her sex-education courses at school, called a “companion education” class.
This will hopefully help alleviate China’s growing number of STD cases, which the National Center for STD control called an “increasing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.” Incidences of STDs were concentrated in affluent regions and cities and most prominently affected those between the ages of 20 and 29.