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  1. Steve Slack
  1. Correspondence to:
 Steve Slack
 Director, Centre for HIV & Sexual Health, Sheffield Primary Care Trust, 22 Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield S10 2BA, UK; steve.slack{at}

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Carrying and using a condom should be the norm among 18–24 year olds

Some years ago I went on a guided tour of Egypt. One of the British tourists in our group asked our young, knowledgeable, and proud Egyptian guide whether she gave credence to the theory that aliens had arrived on Earth thousands of years ago, assisting the ancient Egyptians in construction of their pyramids and tutoring them in their relatively advanced medical and surgical interventions. Our guide did little to conceal her annoyance and offence at the question. She responded by saying it was a typical question from a Westerner who came from a culture which could not conceive that ancient Egyptians were capable of such achievements thousands of years ago, while his ancestors were probably still dwelling in caves and rudimentary shelters.

The use of condoms can also be traced back to the ancient Egyptians who are believed to have used a linen sheath for prevention of disease and pregnancy around 1000 bc.

Were we indeed to be visited by aliens from another planet today they could be forgiven for being bewildered and amused by our present day confused and contradictory relationship with the condom and our apparent …

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