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World AIDS Day: The long history of condoms

World AIDS Day: The long history of condoms

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By Firstpost Dec 1, 2022 1:42:03 PM IST (Updated)

Condoms are undoubtedly one of the best ways to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). On World AIDS Day, here is a look at the history of condoms.

All across the planet, people are marking World AIDS Day today.

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World AIDS Day is observed on 1 December every year to raise awareness about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) – which comprises a slew of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which compromises the immune system.
While there are a number of ways to prevent the spread of AIDS, condoms, when used correctly, are undoubtedly the best way to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Let’s take a look at the world’s first condom and the evolution of the prophylactic:
Ancient Times
The first known depiction of a condom comes from a cave painting around 11,000 BC in France.
As per Esquire, the painting depicts a man and a woman going at it – with him covered in animal skin.
Then you have King Minos of Crete in 3000 BC – yes, the one famous for Minotaur mythology – whom historians believe wrapped himself in a goat bladder for protection.
The Egyptians are said to have used coloured sheaths to ward off tropical disease, while the Ancient Romans used linen or animal intestines and bladders.
As per Cosmopolitan, while some like Aine Collier in The Humble Little Condom: A History claimed Roman soldiers would use the skin of their defeated enemies, others are dismissive of such tales.
The Chinese were said to use oiled silk paper.
Condoms made from animal intestines were all the rage – the only trouble was they didn’t protect from STIs.
Ancient Japanese men were said to use a sheath made of tortoise shell – and sometimes leather alternatives.
In 1533, Renaissance Man Gabriele Falloppio wrote of how he used a linen condom tied in a bow and lubed with saliva.
Lambs and goat intestine condoms also found favour, as per Esquire.
“The cellular junctions
As per the National Library of Medicine, evidence found in Dudley Castle near Birmingham indicated the use of condoms made from fish and animal intestines around 1640.
When King Charles II became concerned over the sheer number of his illegitimate children, his physician Colonel Condom recommended a sheath made of lamb intestine.
This is said to be the origin of the word.
Other possibilities of the origin of the condom include the Latin word “condus” (receptacle or vessel) and the Persian word “kemdu” (a long piece of intestine used for storage), as per the National Library of Medicine website.
The world condom itself first appeared in the diary of physician Daniel Turner and gained widespread use after a dictionary listed the vernacular language in the city of London in 1785.
Modern Times
In 1855, everything changed when Charles Goodyear invented the rubber vulcanisation process – a process where sulfur and natural rubber are heated together to form a more malleable and durable material with a higher elasticity and tensile strength.
That in turn birthed into existence rubber condom.
By the 1860s, rubber condoms were being produced on an industrial scale – and tailored to specific sizes to boot.
The next leap forward came in 1920 with the invention of latex condoms.
While American and European nations began using condoms after World War II, condoms became widely used both as a contraceptive tool and a means of preventing STIs after AIDS was discovered in the 1980s.
Today’s modern condoms, a heady mix of flavours, textures and lubrication, are marketed to both men and women alike.
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