KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — The first modern-day rubber condom was invented over 160 years ago.
Despite its long history in the market however, there is still a mounting stigma surrounding condom use among the public.
In Malaysia, the world’s largest condom manufacturer Karex has been advocating condom use through various creative ways to educate people about the importance of safe sex.
Its group chief executive officer Goh Miah Kiat said overcoming the social stigma surrounding condom usage has always been one of the primary problems within the industry.
“Our experience has taught us that a change in mindset is critical from an early age, therefore we began working with many universities and schools to deliver sexual health education in a manner that was relatable to the youth.
“Art and design are a universal medium to communicate our message across different ages, religions and cultures around the world and it takes the focus away from the stigma that condoms have been traditionally associated with in the past.”
Speaking about the importance of advocacy, Goh said it is integral to their organisation and the community around them.
“In spite of the fact Karex remains a global organisation that has exported products to over 140 countries around the world, we have always made it a priority to continue to support programmes in our local areas to ensure that the communities around us are given the opportunity to develop along our business.
“This has led to many fruitful partnerships and collaborations over the years that I hope will continue to develop as we mature as an organisation.”
Goh, however, said there is also a personal motivation behind his advocacy drive.
"I have been involved with the condom industry for as long as I can remember as my family started the Karex business.
"I remember growing up around the factory during the HIV/AIDS boom when governments and non-governmental organisations first began their involvement to provide condoms to key populations around the world.”
He said social outreach has come a long way since then, but he believes there is still a long way ahead to effectively eradicate HIV/AIDS on a global scale.
However, citing United Nations statistics, Goh said condom use since 1990 has been estimated to have averted 117 million new HIV/AIDS infections globally.
“I am proud to say that we at Karex have played a critical role in helping to develop the associated medical standards and provide a product that is safe and inexpensive so that people are able to continue to prioritise their sexual health.
“I believe in leading by example and as the world’s largest condom maker, we have a responsibility to our stakeholders to continue to present the best possible example for the global community.”
The Sunway-Malaysian AIDS Foundation Red Ribbon Gala 2022 was attended by over 200 guests including, royalties, corporate figures, notable personalities and celebrities. — Picture by Raymond Manuel
In recognition of his years of efforts, Goh was recently awarded the MAF Inspiration Award at the Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala in October.
Goh said he felt extremely honoured and privileged to be recognised for his hard work.
He, however, attributed the award to his team at Karex.
“I must acknowledge that this is an award that I am receiving on behalf of my whole team who have worked tirelessly to continue to build Karex into the company that it is today.”
Moving forward, Goh pledged that they will continue to produce products that enable people from all walks of life to make safe and responsible choices.
“Prioritising sexual health should be a basic right that is available to everyone regardless of status or circumstances.”
The Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award 2022 was recently held at Sunway Resort Hotel and raised a record RM2.55 million fund for HIV/AIDS initiatives.