The rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is rising among teenage boys and young men in Thailand, thanks to the teens’ embarrassment at buying condoms that are the right size, Today is reporting.
Dr. Somchaichote Piyawatchwela, of Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, said the issue is getting hard to address, as teenagers and young men are concerned about peer pressure. Piyawatchwela believes they are hesitant to purchase smaller condoms because they do not want to be labeled as having a “small one.”
The poorly-fitting condoms could then “slip in action,” as Dr. Piyawatchwela puts it, exposing the young man, and his partners, to the risks of STDs, as well as unwanted pregnancy.
According to a statement from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, via Sputnik News, STDs among Thais aged 10-19 have increased fivefold over the last 10 years.
“It is due to the fact that only 43 percent (of teenagers) use condoms and also because they choose condoms that are too big for their actual sizes and they are afraid they will be mocked for being too small.”
The problem is getting particularly big as Valentine’s Day — a Western cultural holiday that young people in Thailand have embraced, with gusto — approaches. Some 83 percent of Thai teens plan to have sex on Valentine’s Day.
Despite its reputation as being an “anything goes” place — as evidenced by Bangkok’s abundant brothels — Thailand is actually a very conservative, devoutly Buddhist nation, according to France 24. Adults generally refuse to talk about sex — especially to children and teenagers — and sex education is limited mostly to exhortations to abstain from sex.
Further, Thailand’s birth rate among teen girls is alarmingly high: 47 per 1,000 girls, and likely higher, since abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances in Thailand, and many pregnant Thai teen girls have illegal, back-alley abortions rather than go public with their pregnancies. By comparison, the teen birth rate in the United States is 31 births per 1,000 girls as of 2013, according to the this Inquisitr report.
The Thai government’s plan to address the problems of ill-fitting condoms causing STDs and pregnancy among teens is scattershot, at best. The Ministry is encouraging teens to visit temples or “have a special meal” for Valentine’s Day, rather than have sex with each other. Further, the Thai government plans to spend about $2 million to hand out free condoms to the general public on Valentine’s Day.
Hopefully, those free condoms will be labeled “Large,” “Extra Large,” and “Humongous,” to spare their teen users any potential embarrassment.
[Image courtesy Getty Images/Alexander Tamargo]