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Female Condom


 

 

The basics

In South Africa

Story Ideas

Contacts

Related websites

Publications

Research Reports


The basics

»  The 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 during intercourse.

»  The female condom is intended to serve a dual role, offering protection from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

»  It is estimated to be 95% effective when used consistently and correctly.

»  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.

»  The female condom was developed in the late 1980s and is distributed internationally by the Female Health Company.

»  A number of new female condom designs are emerging.

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In South Africa

» In 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 Condom.

» The 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.

» While 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.

» Research 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 South Africa. Marseille E, Kahn J, Billinghurst K, et al. Soc Sci Med 2001;52(1):135-48.

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Story Ideas

Below are some suggestions for story angles that have not been prominently covered by the South African media.

o       What 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; SFH; FHC

o       What do men think about female condoms?

o       There is high demand for female condoms in South Africa. How easily available are? Can poorer women access them? How does the female condom social marketing programme work? How much do socially marketed condoms cost? Is the female condom available at pharmacies? Where does the Department of Health distribute free female condoms? Contact: DOH; SFH; Cadre; FHC

o       Are there any effective Female Condom programmes running in the world? Have female condoms been used successfully in sex work? Contact: FHC

o       How safe are female condoms? How are they tested? What’s it like to use a female condom?

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Contacts

The Department of Health
Directorate: HIV/AIDS and STDs
Contact: Ms Eva Gosa
Tel: 012 312 0130
Fax: 012 312 0129
Email: gosae@health.gov.za
Website: www.health.gov.za

Female Health Company (FHC)
Contact: Mitchell Warren
Director for International Affairs
+44 181 965 2813
+44 181 453 0324
Email: mitchellwarren@compuserve.com
Website: www.femalehealth.com

Cadre
Contact:
Warren Parker
Director: CADRE
Tel: 011 339 2611
Fax: 011 339 2615
Email: warren@cadre.org.za
Website: www.cadre.org.za

Reproductive Health Research Unit (RHRU)
Rowena Ngubeni
Project Coordinator
Tel: (011) 933 1228 x 219
Fax: (011) 933 1227
Email: r.ngubeni@rhrujhb.co.za
Website: www.rhru.org.za

Society for Family Health (SFH)
Contact:Tshepo Matladi
Tel: (011) 482 1427
Fax: (011) 482 3333
Email: tsepo@sfh.co.za
Website: www.youthaids.co.za

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Related websites

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
www.unaids.org

World Health Organisation (WHO)
www.who.ch

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
www.unfpa.org

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Publications

» UNAIDS Best Practice Collection (1999):"Use of the female condom: gender relations and sexual negotiation. (Part 3 PDF)
www.unaids.org/publications

» World Health Organisation (2002) WHO Information Update: Considerations regarding Reuse of the Female Condom, WHO, Geneva
www.who.int/reproductive-health 

» UNAIDS & WHO (2000): "The female condom: an information pack", (Not available on line)
 
» UNAIDS Point of View (1997): The female condom and AIDS
www.unaids.org/publications

» UNAIDS bibliographic database on the subject of condoms:
http://www.unaids.org

» Family Health International Female Condom Research Briefs, http://www.fhi.org

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Research Reports

A number of studies have been conducted on the use of the female condom in South Africa.

The Experiences of Family Health International

Expanding Safer Sex Options: Lessons Learned from the Female Condom
Mitchell Warren
The Female Health Company

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