Teenagers who buy condoms larger than the real size of their penises create a risk of contracting or spreading sexually transmitted diseases, the Ministry of Public Health stated on Thursday.
A teenage student plays a game as part of a condom use campaign at school to promote condom use. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)
Ministry spokesman Dr Somchaichote Piyawatchwela said the concern arose as teenagers often buy condoms bigger than the size of their penises because they were afraid that their friends would look down on them for having "a small one" and were therefore inferior.
The oversized condoms could then "slip in action" and that raised the risk of infection and unwanted pregnancy, he said.
The Bureau of Epidemiology reported that venereal disease (VD) infections among teenagers rose nearly five times from 2005 to 2014 (from 7.53 to 34.5 per 100,000 people) while infections almost doubled among those in their 20s in the same period (from 26.66 to 42.73 per 100,000). The main cause was decreased usage of condoms.
A sub-committee of the National Aids Committee has decided that Thailand should have a national condom programme, making it the first country to have such a condom strategy at the national level, said Dr Panpimol Wipulakorn, another spokesperson of the health ministry.
She confirmed that reduced use of condoms was creating a serious STD problem, with HIV infections the biggest concern along with premature pregnancy among teenagers.
Dr Sophon Mekthon, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said a survey covering about 3,000 people in 22 provinces in January found that the percentage of people knowing how to use condoms to protect themselves dropped from 86.2% last year to 76.8%.
The survey also found that the percentage of people feeling embarrassed about buying condoms at drug and convenience stores rose from 41.2% last year to 43.6%.
The Health Ministry plans to spend 47 million baht to distribute 43 million condoms free to the general public this year.