On August 21, two days before the Miss Universe 2009 pageant, contestants participated in the Condom Olympics, an HIV/AIDS awareness event designed by Population Services International (PSI). But, as myfoxnepa.com reports, conservative groups are critical of the event, questioning its efficacy as an HIV education tool.

The competition involved various games such as testing condom strength by blowing into them until they burst and filling them with water. The event also included demonstrations on how to properly apply a condom.

Alyssa Cordova from the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, a conservative women’s group, claims that the competitions “seem quite counterproductive to raising awareness of the seriousness of HIV.”

Cordova is concerned that the event did not promote abstinence as a form of HIV prevention. “Playing right into our culture’s obsession with political correctness, the Miss Universe organization downplays the only thing that prevents the spread and contraction of HIV that is 100 percent effective—abstinence—and perpetuates the lie that if you use a condom everything will be okay,” she said.

Marshall Stowell, communications director at PSI, countered, “The point of all of those games is to teach the participants, whether they be youth or Miss Universe contestants, the proper technique for using a condom, because part of HIV prevention is correct and consistent condom use.”