Condoms in Venezuela now cost as much as iPhones in the US

Venezuela protestors
Anti-government protesters kiss during a protest against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Veron

Venezuela is running out of condoms.

The country is broke. Its economy is on track to shrink 7% in 2015 alone, in large part due to oil prices being so low. Now its economic crisis is leading to a health crisis.

A lack of contraceptives doesn’t keep people from having sex, it just keeps them from having safe sex.

Bloomberg reports that the country started running out of condoms and other kinds of contraceptives in December. “The condom shortage, caused by a scarcity of dollars among importers, has prices on a website used to find scarce goods soaring and risks aggravating one of South America’s highest HIV infection and teenage pregnancy rates.”

A 36-pack of Trojan condoms are going for 4,760 bolivars (about $US750) on Mercado Libre, a site where Venezuelan citizens bid for goods that the country has shortages of. A three-pack is 399 bolivars (about $US62).

There’s a huge advantage for those who have dollars, according to Bloomberg. The same 36-pack is only $US25 on the dollar-based black market.

Venezuela has one of the highest rates for both STDs and teenage pregnancies in South America, and a significant condom shortage will set them back further.

It’s incredibly bad for the country’s women. From Bloomberg:

In Venezuela, with abortion illegal, the disappearance of contraceptives will raise the number of female deaths by driving more pregnant women to clandestine clinics, said Carlos Cabrera, vice president of the local branch of London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation. A lack of condoms will also leave a long-lasting economic impact by taking girls and young women away from schools and the work force, he said.