‘Captain Condom’ Turned the Tide in Thailand’s War on AIDS and Overpopulation


BANGKOK — Mechai Viravaidya twice saw Thailand in desperate trouble — first from a ruinous population explosion and then from the AIDS epidemic — and he responded to both crises the same way: with condoms and his own considerable charisma.

Birth control was something Thais neither talked about nor very much practiced in the early 1970s, when the country’s population was growing at an unsustainable pace and the average family had seven children.

So Mr. Mechai decided to tackle the…



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