The first time Beijing college freshman Guo Si laid hands on a condom was a month before her 20th birthday last year, when she rolled one over a banana during a “companion education” class.
Guo, who moved to Beijing from neighboring Hebei province in 2012, said she had never before had sex education at school.
That’s not uncommon in China. Now, an escalation of HIV,syphilis, genital herpes and other sex-spread infections is spurring demand for knowledge and condoms in a country where intrauterine devices and sterilization are the mainstays of birth control. Colleges such as Guo’s Tsinghua Universityare holding classes and dispensing free rubbers in vending machines. That’s expanding a market forecast by researcher Global Industry Analysts Inc. to increase 9 percent annually to reach $1 billion by 2018, benefiting suppliers such as Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB/), the maker of Durex condoms, andAustralia’s Ansell Ltd. (ANN), owner of a Chinese condom brand.
“It will be a huge and growing market for a long time to come,” said Mickie Leong, who heads a China unit for Ansell that sells a condom called Jissbon, which sounds in Chinese like “James Bond,” the fictional British spy. “As consumers become more educated and more liberal, they consequently understand the need for safety, prevention and happiness all in one.”