First published in the Cape Argus on 17 September 2013
A new thinner, easier-to-use female condom is in the final stages of development and will be available in South Africa soon.
On Monday, on the second annual Global Female Condom Day, the South African office of the international organisation Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (Path) announced it was in the process of launching the woman’s condom.
Vivienne Naidoo, Path’s communication officer, said: ”Rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, remain unacceptably high among women in South Africa. The female condom gives women and couples an additional option for ‘dual protection’. Female condoms may be particularly important for women whose partners cannot or do not want to use male condoms.”
She said Path’s mission was to improve health worldwide through innovation: “Technology evolves all the time and as it develops, so does the health sector. So we wanted to make the female condom a bit more sexy and attractive.”
The new female condom was in the shape of a tampon for easier insertion and was made of polyurethane, which was thinner than the material used on male condoms.
Naidoo said the tampon-shaped outer layer dissolved after being inserted and the condom came with a separate water-based lubricant to allow people to choose how much lubricant they wanted to use.
According to the Human Sciences Research Council’s latest national household survey the number of men between the ages of 15 and 24 who admitted to have used a condom during their last sexual encounter declined from 85.2 percent in 2008 to 67.4 percent last year.
The UN Population Fund found that only one female condom was available for every 10 women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa.
Billions of male condoms were distributed globally each year, but only 60 million female condoms were distributed last year.
Naidoo said the condoms had been SABS approved