Tuesday, August 09, 2005

India to Introduce Female Condoms to Help Fight AIDS

By S. Srinivasan
Associated Press
29 July 2005

DATELINE: BANGALORE, India - India will introduce female condoms later this
year to help fight the spread of AIDS among its billion-plus population,
with cheap supplies available to commercial sex workers, the state-owned
contraceptive maker said Friday.

"Female condoms will empower the woman to protect herself from infection,"
M. Ayyappan, managing director of Hindustan Latex Ltd. told The Associated

A government study in 2004 showed that despite annual sales of 1.6 billion
male condoms, cases of HIV in India had reached 5.1 million, second only to
South Africa, and that a third of them were women.

According to the study, 15 percent of cases were sex workers and another 22
percent housewives with a single partner.

Ayyappan said some male clients resisted using condoms when they visited sex
workers which was one reason why the government's strategy to promote male
condoms as the primary protection against infection had achieved only
limited success.

"Female condoms will transfer the power of decision-making to women,"
Ayyappan said.

He said the company's aim was to provide every sex worker with the right to
use a condom every time with every client.

HLL will initially import condoms from the London factory of Chicago-based
Female Health Co. and start selling them in September, Ayyappan said,
without detailing how many would be imported. He said the company would
start manufacturing their own condoms at a later date.

A female condom is a lubricated shield that is slipped, closed-end first,
into the vagina. The open end remains outside, partially covering the labia.

While a yearlong study funded by the two companies showed that 94 percent of
sex workers polled liked and wanted to use the female condom, Ayyappan said
one of the difficulties in promoting it would be price.

It will cost the company about US$1 ([euro]0.83) to import one condom, while
marketing and distribution will add another US$1.3 ([euro]1.07), he said.

India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has agreed to support the new
product as part of the National AIDS Control Program and is considering a
subsidy to bring down the price to 12 cents for commercial sex workers.

A typical sex worker gets anywhere between US$1 ([euro].83) and US$23
([euro]19.01) per client although most women's earnings are nearer the lower
end of the range.

Female condoms will also be available over the counter for US$2.3
([euro]1.9) each.

Chandrasekhar Gowda, who heads a non governmental project teaching sex
workers how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections,
including HIV, said that sex workers needed more than just a condom.

"The female condom will give woman a choice. She will no longer be dependent
on the man's decision," Gowda said.

"But it can be fully successful only if sex workers are able to negotiate
the use of condom with their clients. We must work to increase the
negotiating power of sex workers so that men come to accept female condoms.


Blogger LA Woman said...

I understand that nothing is done for free, but for the love of Christ, why wouldn't a company lower the prices of condoms if it meant that fewer people would die from AIDS??? I DON'T GET IT!!!
Do the Republicans think that only the Democrats wil suffer from what is going on in our country? DO companies think that they, their loved ones, or anyone REMOTELY close to them will not suffer from AIDS??

I cannot complain, I have slept for too too long.

10:27 PM  

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