Saturday, March 21, 2009

Your Holiness, meet the Condom King


Source: Dothan Eagle via @luckyinthailand

Branching off Bangkok’s bustling Sukhumvit Road is a quiet, narrow street, Soi 12, that’s a sort of refuge from the seedy and exotic offerings on the main drag. In that tranquility, it’s easy to forget Bangkok’s reputation as a destination for sex tourism. Then you see the sign for Mechai Viravaidya’s restaurant: Cabbages and Condoms.

The theme is near to his heart. Mechai, known locally as the Condom King, has been a vocal proponent of condom use for years, first as a means of population control and later, as HIV infection quickly spread through Thailand, as a weapon in the war on AIDS.

Mechai has held posts in Thai government; as minister of tourism, he was instrumental in the promotion of Thailand’s widely touted 100 Percent Condom Campaign, which has been credited with the developing country’s decline in the rate of sexually transmitted HIV infection.

Mechai should request an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. It would promise to be an enlightening evening.

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