Mechai Viravaidya

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Thailand’s Condom King comes to Seattle | 

Tom Paulson

Mechai Viravaidya at Seattle Town Hall

Mechai Viravaidya is known around the world as “Mr. Condom” or the “Condom King” for his activism promoting safe sex in Thailand when the AIDS epidemic first emerged. Many say Thailand’s aggressive condom promotion within the sex industry did a lot to lessen the impact of the pandemic there.

On Thursday evening, after stopping by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation earlier in the week to speak at their annual meeting, Mechai gave a talk at Seattle Town Hall. The event was sponsored by the World Affairs Council.

The economist and former legislator-movie star is very entertaining, even though he tends to use the same jokes. (I met Mechai almost 10 years ago in Bangkok at one of his famous Cabbages & Condoms restaurants … and heard some of the same jokes then. They’re still funny, though)

Mechai didn’t talk about condoms much this time. He talked about a much grander project he’s been working on for more than 30 years, and which led to his condom activism. Continue reading