Condoms of all shapes and sizes were on display at a Beijing fashion show yesterday featuring dresses, hats and even lollipops made of the said item. Models fought through extravagant soap bubble special effects to show off tight-fitting wedding gowns, scaly-looking evening dresses, outrageous bikinis and other garments made entirely of condoms, inflated or otherwise.

The show was held at the Fourth China Reproductive Health New Technologies and Products Expo and organized by China's largest condom manufacturer, Guilin Latex Factory, to promote the use of condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

It also marked World Population Day, organized annually by the UN Population Fund.

China, with a population now of 1.3 billion, introduced a strict one-child policy in the late 1970s under which many residents are restricted to one child.

"One (child) is not enough -- two are better," said visitor Song Weiliang.

But the main aim of the condom show was to promote AIDS awareness.

China originally stigmatized AIDS as a disease of the decadent, capitalist West -- a problem of gays, sex workers and drug users. Traditionally, none of these officially existed in communist China.

It has belatedly woken up to the problem, and health experts have warned the virus is now moving into the general population. But a lack of sex education and unwillingness to talk about sex still hampers the fight, health experts say.

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