Condom sales down as young Czechs lose fear of AIDS

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Sales of condoms in the Czech Republic have fallen quite dramatically, according to figures just released: around ten percent fewer condoms were sold between May 2005 and April 2006 than in the same period two years earlier. What are the reasons for this evident fall in condom use? And what are the possible consequences? Dr Petr Weiss, one of the country's leading sex therapists, elaborates on the issue:

"The main reason is the first fear of AIDS is over, and now the young generation is much less afraid of the AIDS danger than we used to be 20 years ago."

But disease is still fatal, why do you think Czechs have lost that fear? Is it because people with HIV and AIDS are now living longer?

"This is the first reason, because they live longer - you are right. But the second reason is that in the Czech Republic the rate of HIV/AIDS is very, very low. It's maybe the lowest in Europe, along with Slovakia. Our young people don't suppose that it is a serious danger for them personally."

As a doctor working in this area are you worried about these new figures?

"Of course I am worried. And not only about HIV/AIDS, but hepatitis C - it is a much bigger danger now in our drug users...community, because they don't think that it is a serious danger, a serious illness. But, in fact, it kills people in the same way and at the same speed as HIV/AIDS. So hepatitis C is much more widespread than HIV."

What can be done, do you think, to change this situation, in which young Czech people don't seem to care about the dangers of these diseases?

"I think that our young generation is very well-informed about the danger of these diseases. But, you see, to know something, to be informed, is different from to do it. They know every well what to do, but the majority don't do what they should do. So I am afraid that in future the situation can be much worse than it is now."

Between 1985 and 2005 Czech doctors recorded 827 cases of people with HIV. Of that number 118 died.