In South Africa
female condom is a polyurethane sheath that lines the vagina
to create a barrier against the exchange of body fluids. It
comprises of an inner and outer ring. The inner ring at the
closed end is used for insertion and helps to maintain the
device at upper end of the vagina. The larger outer ring remains
outside the vagina and anchors the condom so that the sheath
covers the external genitalia as well as the base of the penis
female condom is intended to serve a dual role, offering
from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
is estimated to be 95% effective when used consistently
» 50-75% of the male and female participants in studies done in numerous
countries report that the female condom is acceptable to them.
Most couples report that the female condom did not interfere
with sexual pleasure or sensitivity.
female condom was developed in the late 1980s and is distributed
internationally by the Female Health Company.
number of new female condom designs are emerging.
In South Africa
1998, the female condom was introduced as a South African
dual protection option – protection from both unintended pregnancies
and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. In
2002 the government procured 1.2 million female condoms for
distribution through 114 selected sites. The number of sites
will increase to 200 sites by end 2002.
» The current cost through the Global Public Sector Price agreement
between UNAIDS and FHC is £.405, or about $.57 per Female
limited introduction of the female condom in South Africa
is owing to the cost per
unit and that it requires counselling to ensure proper use
by the women and men.
female condoms are more expensive than male condoms, studies
are being conducted to determine whether reuse is an option.
Studies by various organisations, including Family Health
International and the Reproductive Health Research Unit (RHRU).
Consultants for the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS state
that to date, data has been insufficient to advise on the
safety of reuse.
in South Africa
has also identified that even at the current price for single use, the
introduction of the female condom can be cost-effective and
even cost-saving. See Cost-effectiveness of the female condom
in preventing HIV and STDs in commercial sex workers in rural
Africa. Marseille E, Kahn J, Billinghurst
K, et al. Soc Sci Med 2001;52(1):135-48.
Below are some suggestions for story angles that have not
been prominently covered by the South African media.
do women think of female condoms? Do they use them? Do they
prefer them to male condoms? Can female condoms be used to
initiate dialogue about barrier methods? Contact: DOH; Cadre;
do men think about female condoms?