Flashback: Condoms, Comedy and Trevor Noah

By Maria Dieter, Communications Assistant, PSI

“Why do our condoms sound like vuvuzelas?”

In 2014, that’s what South Africans were asking when their government-issued condoms weren’t making the grade. And how can condoms prevent HIV if no one wants to use them?

Let’s flash back to September 2016, when comedian Trevor Noah explained how the South African government worked to improve the user experience for their condoms, ultimately increasing condom use and protection from HIV.

Even the Deputy President was on board for the new condoms:

But this is more than a laughing matter. In order to stem the spread of HIV, the South African National Department of Health has been working with PSI to develop condoms that offer both protection and a positive user experience. In 2014, they began to rebrand the publicly issued Choice condoms. PSI worked with local agencies in South Africa on the rebrand, and in June 2016 the NDOH officially launched max condoms.

Max condoms

Photo credit: Western Cape Government, South Africa

A domestic promotion agency was chosen to release the condoms and ensure that the condoms were quiet and smelled good, too. They held condom demos, as well as condom awareness and education campaigns. By September 2016, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa debuted the condoms to parliament.

In South Africa, the consumers used to ask, “why do our condoms smell bad?”

Now the only question is, “Apple flavor or grape flavor?”

Banner Photo: © Population Services International / Photo by: Stephanie O’Connor