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African American-Owned Condom Company Fears the Widening AIDS Epidemic
Date:7/31/2008

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark., July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- When Kirk Manuel speaks, you hear anguish in his voice. You hear the heartbreak of a man who has see one too many members of his community impacted by HIV and AIDS.

When Kirk Manuel speaks, you hear courage in his voice, too. You hear a man who believes in his product, Head Strong Condoms, and in the power of hope.

Manuel is a serious man from a town in Arkansas, a town that has lost several residents to AIDS-related illnesses.

"In poor and rural communities, you can find liquor, you can find tobacco, but you can't always find condoms," Manuel says. "We need to do a better job educating, and we need to do a better job making condoms available, too."

Head Strong Condoms aims to do just that. There are no bright colors, no fruity flavors, no glow-in-the-dark condoms. These are just condoms. The focus is where it should be, Manuel says: preventing pregnancy and protecting against sexually transmitted disease.

Manuel created Head Strong Condoms, the only African American-owned condom company he knows of, after he heard of HIV-infected adults knowingly infecting others with the virus.

"There is a growing trend of HIV-infected individuals knowingly infecting others with the virus," Manuel says. "This is an unspeakable act, but every person must take personal responsibility for their own protection, which means using a condom every time."

Though the condoms currently are available in few stores -- nine in Memphis, five in Little Rock, and three in South Texas -- Manuel plans to expand his reach. His initial focus is on mom-and-pop retailers, but he'll be asking Lil Drug Store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Family Dollar and Dollar General to carry his products, too.

"Dollar stores are in low-income neighborhoods," Manuel says, "but try finding a condom in one of those stores. They're not there and it's a tragedy."

Manuel says Head Strong Condoms will donate condoms to
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SOURCE Head Strong Condoms
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