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African American-Owned Condom Company Fears the Widening AIDS Epidemic

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 those in need as part of the company's "no excuses" philosophy.

"Aside from abstinence, condoms are the most effective form of birth control, the most effective way to prevent STDs," he says. "There is no excuse for not using a condom. Head Strong Condoms are easily affordable. If you can't afford condoms, there are places you can get them free. There is no excuse."


Stephanie Ellis

Head Strong Condoms


SOURCE Head Strong Condoms
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