Sexual Robin Hood

Is Phil Harvey a sort of sexual Robin Hood? He profits from the rich and helps the poor with STDs and birth control.

Mr Harvey is both one of the world's leading purveyors of "adult entertainment" and a big supplier of contraceptives to the developing world. His PHE group, which includes Adam & Eve, America's biggest mail-order and online retailer of sexual toys and pornographic films, is a market leader in an industry which some estimate to be worth more than $10 billion a year. Yet as president of DKT International, he also leads a non-profit group that specialises in distributing condoms, pills and other forms of birth control in some of the poorest parts of the world.

But the most interesting line from the story comes from a paragraph near the end about the distribution methods for contraceptives.

Mr Harvey says that rather than donating contraceptives it is better to market and sell them—even if only for pennies. This brings lots of shopkeepers and others into the distribution network, and it also means customers are more likely to value—and therefore use properly—something they have paid for.

It's a hard idea for some people to grasp, but selling them may actually be more effective than giving them away for free.

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