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China to Lift the Ban on Condom Ads
The authorities are set to lift a long-running ban on condom advertisements amid concern at the HIV/AIDS situation.

Public information advertisements about condoms are expected to appear early next year, said an official from the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, who refused to give his name.

In June, the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, called on the administration to lift the ban.

The administration replied by admitting that a limited range of condom advertisements would help encourage the family planning and the prevention of HIV and AIDS.

It promised to lift the ban next year.

An Bohua, manager of the State Family Planning Commission's medical equipment development center, said: "The ban should have been lifted a long time ago because condoms are the most effective tools for not only avoiding pregnancy but also protecting people and their partners from sexually transmitted diseases."

China has reported a 16.7 percent year-on-year rise of registered HIV-infected people in the first half of this year, according to the Ministry of Health.

Last year, the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health selected four Chinese cities for trial promotions of condoms in entertainment venues.

The Chinese government last year purchased 1.2 billion condoms for family planning. China last year produced 2.4 billion condoms.

More and more vending machines on China's city streets now sell condoms in packs of three.

The advertisements will help change the present chaos in China's condom industry, experts said.

More than 300 companies in China produce various brands of condoms.

However, a market survey conducted by the administration in 2000 -- the latest available -- showed that only 50 percent of the products were considered of good quality.

Advertisements for quality condoms will help guide consumers in making a choice and also better protect their health, experts noted.

The ban arose from a decision made in 1989 by the state administration, under which the media were banned from advertising any products related to sexual activity.

The lifting of the advertising ban has been encouraged by the State Council's five-year program to combat HIV.

The program, covering the years 2001 to 2005, encourages government departments to do more to encourage the use of condoms.

(China Daily December 2, 2002)

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