A 36-pack of condoms in Venezuela now costs $755 at official rates
Compare that to a box in the U.S., which goes for $21.
The huge markup is due to the collapse in oil prices, which has had disastrous consequences in Venezuela, Bloomberg reports.
The South American country relies on crude-oil exports for 95% of its foreign-currency earnings and has seen a 60% fall in those exports over the past seven months.
As a result of the government’s policy of slashing imports to make up for the deficit, consumer goods have become scarce and expensive, and people are forced to queue for hours to get basic products such as meat, sugar, medicine and now contraceptives.
For those with access to American dollars, condoms can be bought on the black market for around $25. But this is only the lucky few.
Bloomberg reported last year that Venezuela’s prostitutes more than double their earnings by moonlighting as currency traders in ports like Puerto Cabello. They are the foreign exchange counter for sailors in a country where buying and selling dollars in the streets is a crime–and prostitution isn’t.
But the lack of access to contraceptives threatens a much broader section of society, and could deepen the country’s social problems. Venezuela has one of South America’s highest rates of HIV infection and teenage pregnancy. Because abortion is illegal, the disappearance of condoms and other forms of birth control like the pill may force more women to clandestine abortion clinics, increasing the risk of maternal deaths.