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International News
Brazil Opens Condom Factory to Reduce Spread of HIV, Preserve Rainforest

April 8, 2008

The Brazilian government on Monday opened a condom factory in the northwestern state of Acre that will produce condoms using rubber from trees in the Amazon rainforest, Reuters reports. The factory will help reduce the country's dependence on imported condoms to fight the spread of HIV and will help preserve the rainforest, the government said.

The factory will produce about 100 million condoms annually (Colitt, Reuters, 4/7). According to the Ministry of Health, the factory will produce the only condoms worldwide that are made of latex from a tropical forest. The condoms will be sold under the name Natex (Duffy, BBC News, 4/8). The condoms will be distributed at no cost throughout Brazil as part of the country's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

The factory will provide about 150 jobs for rubber tappers in the region and will increase demand for latex, currently at about 6.2 million tons annually, by about 500,000 tons annually, the health ministry said (AP/International Herald Tribune, 4/8). More than 550 families will earn a total of 2.2 million Brazilian reais, or $1.3 million, annually by producing the condoms, Reuters reports. According to some environmental advocates, the income generated by the factory will help reduce pressure to cut down trees (Reuters, 4/7). In addition, the latex used to manufacture the condoms is widely available and can be obtained without destroying large sections of the rainforest, according to officials (BBC News, 4/8).

According to the Brazilian government, it is currently the largest single buyer of condoms worldwide. A health ministry spokesperson said that the government imported one billion condoms so far this year, which will be distributed during the next two years (Reuters, 4/7).

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