Condom sales tumble in backdrop of troubled Argentina's economy

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Amid a biting recession in Argentina, people in the South American country are cutting back on condoms due to an increase in the cost of contraception.

The sale of condoms and other birth control pills have tumbled in the country in the backdrop of a recession, currency devaluation and painful inflation, pharmacists and manufacturers said.

Condom sales are down eight percent so far this year as compared to 2018, estimated sources, and have fallen by a quarter as the economic crisis worsened over recent months.

Domestic sales of cars, wines, and meat have also dipped due to the squeezing economy.

The number two economy of the South American continent is grappling with a 50 percent increase in annual inflation and expected to further shrink 2.6 percent in 2019, owing to unevenly applied fiscal discipline and structural reforms, amid the failure of central bank's credibility.

The country's economic and financial foundations as such remain vulnerable to both internal and external shocks, and the present crisis can be attributed to President Mauricio Macri's weak program to restore investors' confidence following a $57 billion International Monetary Fund loan in 2018, the largest ever made by the IMF.

The Argentinian peso has lost two-thirds of its value against the dollar, hammering imports and consumption, since the beginning of 2018.

"The devaluation of the peso is killing me," Reuters cited actor and comic Guillermo Aquino as saying in a viral video.

The actor in the video can be seen apologizing to a potential partner as he had only one condom left until the end of the year.

"I love you, it's not you, it's the socio-economic situation," adds the humorist.

The crisis in Argentina deepened as the country failed to attract enough new financing from the private sector to sustain spending on imports.

According to Felipe Kopelowicz, president of Kopelco, manufacturer of Tulipán and Gentleman condom brands, said a weaker currency has an immediate impact on the price as most of the condoms or the manufacturing material are imported.

The sale of birth control pills is also down by 6 percent in 2019, pharmacists said.

"People come, ask the price, and then just leave," a pharmacist said.

Isabel Reinoso, president of the Argentina Pharmaceutical Confederation, said price rises meant thousands of women stop taking the pill, with about 144,000 women going off contraceptives each month.

The issue could aggravate levels of sexually transmitted disease as sexual health is "still a taboo and has little support", said Mar Lucas, program director at Fundación Huésped, an Argentine non-profit organization fighting HIV.

According to public health experts, the government distributes free condoms in public hospitals, but few know about it.