Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a new program to fund projects geared at reinventing the condom in a move to save lives from STI’s and HIV Aids and make the condom more pleasurable to use during sex.
According to the foundation, “Male condoms are cheap, easy to manufacture, easy to distribute, and available globally, including in resource poor settings, through numerous well developed distribution channels.”
However, there have been challenges in encouraging people to use them leading to unwanted pregnancies, STI’s and HIV/Aids even with the increasing production of condoms. Statistics show that there are over15 billion units produced globally in a year with an estimated 750 million users and a steadily growing market as populations increase.
Multi-purpose Prevention Technology For Over 750M Users
Condoms are aimed to protect females from pregnancy and both partners from numerous STIs, including HIV transmission, making them a prime example of a multi-purpose prevention technology (MPT) adds the foundation. Use of condoms does not require a prescription, a skilled health provider or in fact any healthcare provider or healthcare delivery system and have no related side effects are reported.
The foundation adds that condoms are unique in that they are user controlled, user applied devices that are simple to use and easily transported. These characteristics make condoms the perfect MPT product, especially for low resource settings.
For one to get funding, the foundation is looking for a “Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use.”
Any other attributes to increase ease-of-use for both male and female condoms is also welcome. One should also look at a way to overcome cultural barriers, have a testable hypothesis, include a plan for how the idea would be tested or validated, and have backing data.
Bill and Melinda Gates adds that to get funding, firms ought to have, “Application of safe new materials that may preserve or enhance sensation; development and testing of new condom shapes and designs that may provide an improved user experience; application of knowledge from other fields such as neurobiology, vascular biology and new strategies to improve condom desirability.”
Prototypes For The Developing World
However, the foundation will not fund exclusively non-technological, social, or educational interventions; existing commercially available products; proposals without a clearly articulated hypothesis or plan for testing the proposed product’s value in overcoming adherence issues or concepts that are inherently too expensive for a developing world setting and those that would sacrifice the value of condoms for prevention of either unplanned pregnancy or HIV infection.