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AFRICA: Cheaper female condom will increase accessibility
October 11, 2005
- Women in sub-Saharan Africa will soon benefit from a cheaper version
of the female condom, enabling them to negotiate safer sex with
their male partners.
cost of the female condom has prevented many women in developing
countries from accessing the prevention device, but a new second-generation
female condom made of synthetic latex could change this, experts
advocacy groups see the female-controlled barrier method as a significant
alternative available to women for empowering themselves against
"The [new material]
allows us to manufacture larger volumes, and this could cause a
significant reduction in price," Mary Ann Leeper, president of the
US-based Female Health Company (FHC) told PlusNews.
Last week female
condom manufacturer FHC announced that the second-generation female
condom (FC2) would be made available to developing countries, and
that smaller, poorer nations would be able to purchase the product
by forming a coalition.
in a region come together as a collective and place a large order
[with FHC], this will allow the smallest country to get the best
possible price," Leeper noted.
the volume of condoms purchased, the FC2 could be sold for as little
as US $0.22 per unit. The existing female condom, made from the
more expensive polyurethane, sells for US $0.72 per unit.
"This is excellent
news ... now that the price has been cut - potentially by two-thirds
- we must distribute the FC2 Female Condom as rapidly as possible.
This is a very real advance for women around the world," said Zena
Stein, co-director of the HIV Centre for Clinical and Behavioural
Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, in a statement.
at the Reproductive Health Research Unit (RHRU) in Durban, South
Africa, conducted studies to assess the performance and acceptability
of the new female condom and found that there was no difference
"About a third
of the women who used both condoms said they were the same, and
people found it difficult to say which was one was which," Mags
Beksinska, RHRU deputy executive director commented.
the male condom, however, uptake of the female condom has been slow.
"Ultimately the female condom is still expensive, and the idea is
to bring it down to the price of the male condom ... but synthetic
latex is still more expensive than latex [the material used to manufacture
Last year between
six and nine billion male condoms were distributed globally, but
only 12 million female condoms were made available during the same
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