11/18/2010 09:27 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

South Africa's 'Government Condom' Campaign Has Mixed Results

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Julie Peroni liked everything about her new boyfriend and she couldn't wait for the first time he spent the night.

"Things were going really well," said Peroni, 26, before pausing dramatically. "But then he pulled out a government condom. Like I would ever date somebody who uses government condoms!"

"Government condoms" refer to the millions of free condoms funded by the state and distributed throughout South Africa each year as a way to fight the massive epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV.

But even as the phrase has entered the South African lexicon, results have been decidedly mixed. Moreover, the practice has become another class marker in a country with a vast gap between rich and poor, dividing those who can afford the latest ribbed, lubricated and flavored varieties from those who rely on free protection, the carnal answer to government food stamps.

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