[to top of second column]
"The mindset is changing, but there are still a lot of challenges," said Bidia Deperthes, the Population Fund's HIV technical adviser for condoms. "Accessibility is still minimal. There's a huge demand, and we're not meeting it."
Deperthes hopes that with FDA approval of the FC2, the number of female condoms distributed globally could climb to 50 million this year. If the numbers keep rising, she said, the cost to public-sector distributors for each FC2 could drop as low as 25 cents.
Jeff Spieler, a science adviser with USAID's Office of Population and Reproductive Health, said the female condom's future may depend on whether its promoters can develop a private-sector market. Its commercial price in the United States generally has been more than $2.
Another challenge is a stigma associated with the female condom in some places because prostitutes are among those deemed to benefit most from using it. On the other hand, advocates of the female condom say it has invaluable safe-sex potential for married women whose husbands are unfaithful and shun male condoms.
Serra Sippel, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington, said FDA approval of the FC2 is a key step toward "putting the power of prevention in women's hands." But she bemoaned the product's limited over-the-counter availability.
"We'd love to see the profile raised, to have commercials about it and normalize it so people aren't embarrassed," she said.
Mary Ann Leeper said the Female Health Co. is seeking a corporate partner to help market the FC2. She suggested that concern about HIV/AIDS may generate interest among women in communities with high infection rates.
The female condom's advocates stress that it will never be the "magic bullet" that by itself turns the tide in fighting AIDS. But, they say, it should be a bigger part of the arsenal.
"It's not going to be the one answer," Hoffman said. "But it's got a lot more to contribute than it has to date."
On the Net:
U.N. Population Fund:
Female Health Co. http://www.femalehealth.com/
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor