Posts Tagged ‘female condom’

December 21, 2012

Fan of Female Condoms? Enter International Film Contest

If you’re a filmmaker with an interest in spreading the word about female condoms, check out this contest from PATH, a global health organization:

Why does the world need female condoms? How can female condoms enhance your life? Submit a short film (1:00–5:00 minutes) that tells a story about what Female Condoms Are to you and your community. The deadline to enter is March 1, 2013.

First prize receives $5,000. Winning entries will also be screened at the 2013 Women Deliver conference. Full details and rules are on the contest website.

To learn more about female condoms, see our previous posts and this excerpt from the most recent edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”


September 12, 2012

Today is Global Female Condom Day!

global female condome day 9/12/2012Today is the first ever Global Female Condom Day, intended to help raise awareness of the female condom as an option for pregnancy and HIV prevention. The female condom is the only available woman-initiated method available that offers dual protection.

You can get involved by reviewing and sharing talking points on female condoms, downloading and posting sheets that invite onlookers to share why female condoms are important, and joining the conversation online.

To find out more about what’s happening today and what you can do, check out the National Female Condom Coalition page and the Global Female Condom Day event on Facebook.  The National Female Condom Coalition is also tweeting and encouraging online participation using the hashtag #GlobalFCDay.

To learn more, check out our web content on female condoms and read our previous posts.


August 8, 2012

Getting the Word Out About Female Condoms

The FC2 Female Condom

How did one guy come to love using the female condom? Science journalist David C. Holzman answers that very question in a recent piece for Boston’s NPR affiliate, WBUR.

Holzman describes his own iffy approach to male condom use, and how his experience of improved sensation with the female condom  made him a convert. He also talks about some reasons why female condoms may not have yet taken off, and how they may offer better protection than male condoms against sexually transmitted infections.

Holzman also was recently interviewed for WBUR’s CommonHealth segment, alongside OBOS’s own Judy Norsigian, which you can listen to online.

Many sexual health advocates have been working for greater availability of female condoms, both in the United States and around the world. For more information, check out our previous post on a paper doll campaign to demonstrate demand for female condoms, and the Female Condoms 4 All campaign, which strung together all ~20,000 of those paper dolls to display in conjunction with the recent International AIDS Conference.

You can learn about FC2, the only female condom available in the United States, from this excerpt from the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Health workers can get online training on the FC2 at this website.


June 21, 2012

Want to Help Make History? Join Us in Demanding Female Condoms!

by Anna Forbes

Sign for Female CondomsHave you ever been part of an attempt to set a new record in the “Guinness Book of World Records”? Want to help break an existing world record while also helping to increase access to HIV prevention tools?

If so, your message can be featured in what we hope will become the world’s longest chain of paper dolls.

Universal Access to Female Condoms Joint Programme (UAFC) is working with CHANGE, Our Bodies Ourselves, and dozens of other organizations around the world to collect 30,000 individually completed paper dolls to display in one massive chain at the International AIDS Conference, scheduled for July 22-27 in Washington, D.C.

To participate, just go to Sign4FemaleCondoms.org by July 27 and write a message about why you think female condoms are important. Your message and paper doll will be included in the chain. Together, we’ll break the world record.

This extraordinary visual statement will illustrate the broad-based, urgent demand for female condoms that exists all around the world. Right now, only 1 percent of all condoms used worldwide are female condoms (FC). Most people either don’t know about FCs or have never used them because they are poorly promoted, expensive and/or unavailable. Meanwhile, more than half of all people living with HIV worldwide are women.

Female condoms are just as effective as male condoms in preventing HIV and pregnancy—and they allow women to protect themselves when male condoms aren’t being used.

Participation is free, it’s fast, and you will contribute to a powerful visual statement urging policy-makers and funders to invest more in making the FC, an under-utilized, highly effective HIV prevention tool, accessible to all women and men who need it.

Learn more about this project by visiting Facebook.com/zawadi.smartlove. Thanks for taking part!

Anna Forbes is an advocate, organizer, and writer who has worked in HIV/AIDS since 1985 and on women’s health and rights since 1977.  Now an independent consultant with an international client base, her work centers around women, HIV, gender, health, and rights.


June 22, 2010

Deliver This: Female Condoms and Maternal Health

by Kiki Kalkstein, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)

Earlier this month, I attended the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, D.C ., on behalf of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). After a jam-packed three days of plenary sessions, chairman’s sessions, and more than 100 concurrent sessions, participants left the conference reinvigorated and ready to take action to work toward fulfilling Millennium Development Goal #5: Reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

After speaking with hundreds of participants, one thing was made very clear to me — people not only want female condoms, but they believe that female condoms are a vital tool in decreasing maternal death, improving maternal health, and promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights.

I had countless conversations with participants from all over the world who were thrilled we were there talking about and promoting the female condom. As I shared information about the Prevention Now! Campaign (CHANGE’s initiative to increase access to existing prevention methods, especially female and male condoms), their message came through loud and clear — we want female condoms, and we want them now.

I spoke with men and women of all ages, and again and again they expressed interest in female condoms and inquired about how to increase access in their own countries. A doctor from Kenya said that women who come to his clinic consistently ask for female condoms, and he doesn’t have any to offer. A doctor from Nepal took all the information he could from our booth, and came back with his colleagues to get more. Some participants asked how they could launch a female condom program in their own countries. Female condoms are in demand.

Access to contraception is critical for preventing maternal deaths, but sometimes high-level decision makers do not make that connection. The female condom puts women in control of their own health by enabling women to delay pregnancy and space out births, all of which decrease the risk of maternal death and disability.

Effective family planning programs are not only fundamental to maternal health, they also allow women and families to better manage household and natural resources, secure education for all family members, and address each family member’s healthcare needs. Participants at Women Deliver conference acknowledged the benefits of the female condoms and recognized it as a vital tool for improving maternal health globally.

Related posts:
Expanding the Female Condom Market
FC2 Female Condom Available in the U.S.

Kiki Kalkstein is the program assistant at the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). She previously designed and implemented public health education programs both domestically and internationally, including a rural community outreach program with the Uganda Village Project focused on increasing awareness around obstetric fistula. She also designed and implemented at the University of California at Berkeley “Sex and Sustainability: Reconnecting Population and Women’s Empowerment,” a campus program designed to increase awareness about unmet family planning needs in developing countries.


March 11, 2010

Wrap-Up: STD Prevention Conference, HIV/AIDS Awareness & Female Condoms in D.C.

Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, has posted her presentation on social media and young adults that was delivered this week at the National STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta. The slideshow covers the latest data on electronic and digital communciation, including cell phone usage and sexting.

Presenting with Lenhart was Kicesie Drew, who provides sex ed information via YouTube; Sally Swanson from the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina, a group that usess texting to answer questions about sexual health; and Cornelis Rietmeijer, director of the Sexually Transmitted Disease Control Program/Denver Public Health.

More health professionals are turning to innovative techniques and technologies to reach young and at-risk populations. I recently took part in a symposium, sponsored by Chicago Department of Public Health and the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network, on how public health workers can use social media to reach the LGBT community. We looked at some of the promises and obstacles that new communciation tools present. One of the most important lessons: Know how your audience uses technology, and go where they go.

I was honored to be on a panel with Lovette Ajayi, a superstar at Community Media Workshop and co-founder of the Red Pump Project, which raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. And that brings me to the second point of this post: March 10 was National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

The Red Pump Project presents statistics about HIV/AIDS  and women — and the great disparities. Though black and Latina women represent 24 percent of all U.S. women combined, they account for 82 percent of the estimated total of AIDS diagnoses for women in 2005.  Consider that HIV is the:

* Leading cause of death for black women (including African American women) aged 25–34 years.
* 3rd leading cause of death for black women aged 35–44 years.
* 4th leading cause of death for black women aged 45–54 years.
* 4th leading cause of death for Latina women aged 35–44 years.
* The only diseases causing more deaths of women are cancer and heart disease.
* The rate of AIDS diagnosis for black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women.

These numbers illustrate the need for massive improvements in education, prevention and treatment — all topics the National STD Prevention Conference aims to address. High-priority issues are identified for each biennial conference, and this year’s top three issues couldn’t be more  relevant or directly worded.

The last point is a great reminder of how change is both incredibly simple and complex: “It is essential to find ways to move beyond our longstanding societal reticence to openly discuss sexual health issues and to normalize conversations around STD prevention.”

Plus: In related news, Washington, D.C. will make 500,000 female condoms available — for free. The condoms will be available in beauty salons, convenience stores and high schools in parts of the city with high HIV rates, reports the Washington Post. The project is funded through a $500,000 grant from the MAC AIDS Fund, a subsidiary of MAC Cosmetics.


October 6, 2009

FC2 Female Condom Available in the U.S.; CVS Stores in Washington, D.C. First to Sell Condoms Directly to Consumers

Almost six months after receiving FDA approval as an HIV-prevention method, the FC2 female condom is now available in the United States.

The formal announcement was made in Atlanta last week at the Southeastern Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health Summit, a coalition of reproductive health advocates. The summit was hosted by SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective.

female_condom_2The FC2 female condom is a second generation product developed by the Chicago-based Female Health Company. Currently available only to state health agencies and nonprofit organizations, the FC2 will be sold in CVS stores in the Washington, D.C. area starting in December, FHC’s senior strategic adviser Mary Ann Leeper told Reuters.

Washington, D.C. health officials released a report in March showing that at least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS — a rate that is on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.

Female Health Company is looking for a marketing partner to help promote FC2 directly to consumers.

“We need the other company to really make a dent into the consumer market,” said Leeper.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the past two decades, the percentage of women among all people living with HIV in the United States has increased from 8 percent to 27 percent. African American women account for 66 percent of new AIDS cases among American women; they are 21 times more likely to contract HIV than white women, while Latino women are five times more likely.

“America’s HIV epidemic isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse, and African American and Latino women are disproportionately impacted,” said Dazon Dixon Diallo, founder and president of SisterLove, a grassroots service organization that supports HIV/AIDS prevention and reproductive health programs for women in the Atlanta area. “It’s time to provide women in heavily impacted communities with expanded access to affordable women-controlled options, and the female condom becomes that choice. Women will use it if they have it.”

Female Health Company says the FC2 is thinner and quieter than its predecessor, the FC1 female condom. The FC2 is made of synthetic nitrile, a latex alternative, so it’s safe to use with both oil and water-based lubricants. Here’s information (pdf) about how to insert the condom. There’s also an animated video demonstration. More resources from FCH are available here.

FC2 may be purchased from the company’s two public sector distributors: Total Access Group, Inc. and Global Protection Corporation.

FHC has also launched a new site, www.fc2femalecondom.com, which includes tiered pricing information for ordering female condoms directly (minimum of 25,000). The maximum price of 82 cents per condom is 30 percent less than the price paid for FC1. A retail price has not been determined.

Though female condoms are not popular in the United States, the FC2 has been available in other countries since 2006. The U.S. Agency for International Development had lobbied for the FDA’s approval — a lengthy and expensive process – so it could be purchased for U.S.-funded global HIV-prevention programs.

Earlier this year, Audacia Ray, program officer for online communications and campaigns at the International Women’s Health Coalition, described other female condom prototypes that are being actively tested and promoted outside of the United States, especially in Africa.


July 7, 2009

Female Condom to be Reintroduced in Uganda, United States

We’ve written about the female condom – including the recently approved FC2 – several times in the past. Serra Sippel of the Center for Health and Gender Equity has an update on this topic at RH Reality Check, noting that Uganda is working on plans to reintroduce female condoms, with that nation’s government planning to promote the device beginning this fall.

Sippel explains that the Center for Health and Gender Equity and the Global Campaign for Microbicides recently met with:

…local leaders from HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, domestic violence, human rights and women’s rights groups in Kampala for an advocacy training targeted at donors and national government to ensure successful reintroduction of female condoms in Uganda. As part of the training, participants met with members of the Health Development Partnership Group, which USAID heads; with UNFPA and the Ministry of Health, demonstrating civil society support for the prevention method. Participants also learned about the history of the female condom in Uganda and how to move forward with advocacy efforts beyond the training.

After having received FDA approval to market the device in March, the FC2 female condom is expected to be available in the United States this September. PreventionNow! has additional resources on the topic of female condoms, including news and global promotion efforts.


March 11, 2009

Female Condom Receives FDA Approval

The Female Health Company is announcing [PDF] today that the FDA has approved the company’s FC2 Female Condom for preventing pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections.

The company notes that the approval will “enable the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to procure FC2 for distribution to global HIV/AIDS programs,” and that changes in the material and manufacturing as compared to their original female condom should make the product more affordable. The device has been available in other countries since 2006, but FDA approval apparently means that it can now be purchased for U.S.-funded prevention programs worldwide.

Although the approval documents are not yet available on the FDA website, they should be available here sometime in the near future for examination.

The FDA’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Panel reviewed and recommended approval of the product last December. For further discussion of this and other female condom prototypes, see our recent guest post from Audacia Ray of the International Women’s Health Coalition.


January 26, 2009

Expanding the Female Condom Market

Guest post by Audacia Ray, International Women’s Health Coalition

Demand for newer and better devices that protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is constant — partly due to the fact that the process of development, testing and approval takes forever, and partly because what’s on the market often leaves something to be desired.

The polyurethane female condom (FC) has been available for 15 years now, and it’s gotten a lot of mixed reviews. It is the only barrier method available that is designed for female initiation, but it’s three times as expensive as a male condom, unwieldy, and can squeak during use (not sexy). Male condoms, of course, have their imperfections; loss of sensation and ill-fit are chief among the complaints.

This past December, the new and improved FC2 was recommended to the FDA for approval (see OBOB post). It should be on the market in the United States within the next year. The FC2 is made of a latex alternative, which is by all accounts a thinner, quieter, lower-cost material than polyurethane.

However, there are also other prototypes out there that are being actively tested and promoted outside of the United States, especially in Africa. In early December Jen Wilen, a program officer for Francophone Africa at the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), ventured to the 15th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in Dakar, Senegal, where she got to check out two different prototypes for new female condoms.

One of these new condoms is the VA w.o.w. Condom Feminine (pictured left), a latex female condom made by the same company that produces the popular Inspiral male condom, which is extra roomy around the glans of the penis to increase male pleasure.

The most striking feature of the w.o.w. (worn-of-woman) FC is that it has a soft sponge where FC and FC2 has an internal ring. The sponge acts as an anchor to hold the female condom in place. The w.o.w has been available in Southern Africa since 2004 and is also available in the UK.

The second female condom (pictured right) was designed by a Seattle-based company called PATH, which has a contract to move forward with making the device available in China by 2010.

This FC is made of nitrile and has something of a parachute effect — its applicator capsule dissolves once it is inside the vagina and the FC expands to its full size.

This particular version is being tested through Family Health International — the packaging warns that it is “limited by law to investigational use only. This product may fail during use and must not be relied upon for contraception or sexually transmitted disease prevention.”

One of IWHC’s partners, Society for Women Against AIDS in Africa, Cameroun Chapter (SWAAC), has been a major advocate for the female condom. They regularly host sexuality education sessions — some in very public places (see below and here) — that teach women and men about how to use the female condom.

Audacia Ray is program officer for online communications and campaigns at the International Women’s Health Coalition.


December 16, 2008

Quick Hit: FDA Panel Recommends Approval of Female Condom

Last week, we wrote about a Food and Drug Administration’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Panel meeting to consider approval of a female condom; the product (currently called the FC2) is similar to the existing Reality condom, but with a change in the material.

That panel met on Thursday and unanimously recommended (14-0) approval.

Research was presented on the device assessing mechanical failures (such as breakage and slippage) as compared to the original female condom which it will replace. The research suggests that the two products were very similar in these respects.

However, the FDA’s summary of the meeting indicates that “No clinical studies have been submitted to show FC2 effectiveness for pregnancy or STI risk reduction.” And the FC2 was approved under the condition that the label for the device “be revised to accurately reflect the extent of the evidence comparing FC1 and FC2.” The panel specifically noted that “clinical outcomes (i.e., pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections) had not been studied on FC2.”

What I don’t quite understand is why research data on effectiveness for pregnancy and STI risk reduction wasn’t presented or required. The manufacturer is claiming that the new version is essentially equivalent to the female condom already on the market, but the material has been changed from a polyurethane to a nitrile – it seems like a change in what the condom is made of might warrant additional study. The full transcript of the meeting is not yet available, so perhaps this question was addressed, but it’s not apparent that any research was presented suggesting whether the nitrile material is as effective as polyurethane in preventing sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy.

As this brief from the Daily Women’s Health Policy Report notes, the new material makes the condoms less costly and the FC2 is already in use in other countries.

Update: The National Women’s Health Network has released their testimony to the advisory panel. In it, they address the FDA’s concerns about the study and recommend approval of the condom, and also ask for further discussion of and research on how spermicide may affect the device.


December 10, 2008

FDA Panel to Discuss Approval of Female Condom

Tomorrow, the Food and Drug Administration’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Panel (an advisory committee) will consider and vote on a premarket approval application for the FC2 Female Condom for HIV and pregnancy prevention.

This type of application means that the company making the condoms, the Female Health Company, believes the product is “substantially equivalent” to the female condom that is already on the market (sometimes know as the “Reality” condom, which is another FHC product). Whether the two products are equivalent is something the advisory committee will discuss, as this has bearing on whether the maker is required to do studies of clinical outcomes (STI/HIV and pregnancy prevention) in the FC2 condom or not.

According to Reuters, a representative of the company indicated that (regarding further testing and comparison to the first generation female condom): “The design is exactly the same, how you use it is exactly the same … we just don’t believe there is any more information required.” The only thing that seems to make the two products different is a material change from polyurethane to a “synthetic nitrile;” company literature explains that this change should “improve affordability.”

The panel will also discuss the data on “breakage, mis-direction, invagination, and slippage,” and what information should be included on the product label.

Pamela Merritt has further discussion of the product and the process at RH Reality Check, including links to a letter of support for approval that several organizations have put together and individuals and organizations can sign. She explains:

“The FC2 has been approved by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund for distribution by HIV/AIDS and family planning organizations. FDA approval would enable USAID to purchase larger quantities of female condoms and distribute them to non-governmental agencies providing services to the millions of women living in nations with high HIV/AIDS infection rates.”

If you are in the Gaithersburg, Md., area, the meeting is open to the public (see details).


April 24, 2008

Obstacles to Female Condom Distribution Outlined in New Report

A new report commissioned by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) blames “bureaucratic obstacles, funding restrictions, and a lack of high level commitment to female condoms” for delaying the expansion of U.S.-funded female condom distribution efforts.

But the biggest deterrent — for both male and female condoms — lies within U.S. global policy concerning HIV prevention.

The report, “Saving Lives Now: Female Condoms and the Role of U.S. Foreign Aid,” takes to task the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, which prioritizes condom promotion programs under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) only for “high-risk persons.”

Also damaging is the congressionally mandated requirement that PEPFAR spend 33 percent of all HIV prevention funds on abstinence-until-marriage programs, which funnel money toward programs that only promote abstinence and fidelity as means of preventing HIV.

Congress reauthorized PEPFAR earlier this month. Policy and news updates are available through PEPFAR Watch, also sponsored by CHANGE.

“Saving Lives Now” is available for free at PreventionNow.net (download PDF), a global campaign to expand access to female condoms. CHANGE and its U.S. partners work with existing female condom campaigns in other countries such as Argentina, Ghana, and Zambia.

Female condoms account for just 0.2 percent of total global condom supply. The report found that female condoms are available in 108 countries, but they are not readily accessible in most countries. The United States has supplied female condoms to 30 countries in the past decade and to 16 countries in 2007. Nearly 26 million female condoms were distributed worldwide in 2007, compared to 11 billion male condoms.

“It is distressing that women make up half of those infected by HIV and policy makers are refusing to provide women with the tools they need to negotiate safer sex,” said Serra Sippel, CHANGE executive director. “The U.S. and other donors must increase comprehensive funding for the purchase, distribution and programming of female condoms to ensure that women and men have access to female condoms and know how to use them.”

Based on interviews with health experts and a review of current literature on female condoms, the report’s executive summary (PDF) offers the following findings and common-sense recommendations:

FINDING: U.S. agencies responsible for female condom programming and procurement do not have polices that promote the integration of female condoms into HIV prevention and family planning programs. Whether the U.S. procures female condoms in a given country is highly dependent on the personal biases of USAID mission staff.

RECOMMENDATION: USAID and OGAC should issue policy guidance promoting female condom procurement and programming within U.S.-funded development programs, including PEPFAR. As a signatory of ICPD, the U.S. should promote female condoms as a vital tool to prevent both pregnancy and HIV infection.

FINDING: The U.S. excels at assisting countries in female condom logistics and procurement.

RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. should expand technical assistance for female condom logistics and procurement to additional countries to increase HIV prevention efforts.

FINDING: Sustained product availability and effective programming is limited to a few countries. Accurate estimates for female condom needs do not exist.

RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. should apply intensive programming efforts to an additional three countries for scale-up and replication. These efforts could be used to create a more realistic assessment of global female condom needs for scale-up.

Plus: Here’s a post from last year on efforts to redesign the female condom and problems with raising money in the United States for the clinical trials required for FDA approval.


November 15, 2007

The Female Condom, Newly Redesigned, Attempts a Comeback

So what is it about the female condom that — pardon the pun — creates a barrier to widespread acceptance and use, both in the United States and in other countries?

Scientists and health advocates are trying to figure out the answer to that question.

Part of the problem is that in 15 years, there’s never been a second-generation product produced that improved upon the original version. Michael J. Free, head of technology at PATH, a nonprofit group based in Seattle that has redesigned the female condom, commented on the lack of competition in the development. “There’s no lack of interest, but we’ve been stalled,” he told The New York Times.

PATH is now seeking FDA approval for its version (more info on it here), which is supposed to offer improved ease of use and a more natural feeling sexual experience, but the process could be lengthy:

While the F.D.A. designates male condoms as Class 2 medical devices — meaning that a new maker has to pass tests only for leakage and bursting — it puts female condoms in Class 3, the same category as pacemakers, heart valves and silicone breast implants.

That decision was made in 1999 — after much debate, and well after the condom was in use overseas — because there was no clinical data on the effectiveness of female condoms, and failure could be life-threatening if the woman’s partner had AIDS. An advisory panel suggested not even calling it a “condom” and instead labeled it an “intravaginal pouch,” but the agency rejected that advice.

Names notwithstanding, the Class 3 listing means that any new design must pass clinical trials, which would cost $3 million to $6 million.

“That’s a huge, huge impediment, close to a 100 percent block, because no one’s willing to put up that sort of money,” Dr. Free said.

Design costs and prototype development have been covered by a combination of public and private funds, but no one is putting up money for the clinical trials or factory costs. Some investors cite the smaller-than-predicted American and European markets that never warmed to the original design.

There are some issues that even an abundance of development funds and a redesigned product can’t fix: the female condom can’t be used with discretion.

For that reason, married women, now one of the highest risk groups for AIDS in poor countries, rarely use it.

“I don’t want my husband to know that I am wearing a condom,” said Lois B. Chingandu, the director of SAfaids, an anti-AIDS organization in Zimbabwe.

“Condoms are almost undiscussable within a marriage” in Africa, she added. “It is something associated with casual sex. If a wife uses a condom, the message is that you have been unfaithful. If she even initiates the discussion, it tips the power scale. Men resist quite a lot, and it can result in violence.”

The female condom has developed a following among sex workers, however. And supporters say the condom’s failure in some countries was due more to poor marketing and inconsistent availability.

“People said, ‘Oh, it failed,’” said Mitchell Warren, former director of international affairs for the Female Health Company. “Well, it didn’t fail. It just wasn’t available, or its introduction was a bad program. People need to practice with it before it catches on.”

Plus: In 2005, health experts attended the Global Consultation on the Female Condom in Baltimore to review evidence of the female condom’s effectiveness in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and to learn about countries’ program experiences. Slide presentations and panels from that conference are available online.