Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Female condoms overlooked in fight against spread of HIV/AIDS

24.11.2004


While scientists work to find the ’perfect’ solution to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, a reasonable option--the female condom--is not being promoted, especially in African and southeast Asian countries where the deadly virus is most prevalent, according to a new study. "While we’re waiting for perfection, people are dying," said Dr. Amy Kaler, a sociology professor at the University of Alberta.



In a paper published in the November/December issue of Culture, Health & Sexuality, Kaler presents findings that show female condoms are being dismissed as a viable method of protection for a number of reasons, including cost and availability in developing nations, and, in North America, for esthetic reasons.

These attitudes have serious implications for developing the next generation of barrier methods, such as revamped diaphragms and cervical caps to reduce transmission of AIDS. "Female condoms, and female barrier methods in general, are a very important avenue of exploration for HIV protection that has been prematurely closed off," Kaler said.


In her paper, which examines the past eight years of female condom promotion in Africa, Kaler interviewed 34 health care workers from the United States and South Africa. She discovered that "female condoms, like other reproductive technologies, are judged against the ’gold standard’ of the birth control pill: a discreet, convenient 100 per cent effective method for achieving a reproductive health goal. Other technologies that fall short of this ideal are dismissed as unworkable or inadequate," she said.

Condoms are traditionally seen by reproductive health care workers as second-rate methods of barrier control against pregnancy, and so are not as strongly promoted as they should be for protection against HIV/AIDS, Kaler said. The female condom is currently approved for one-time use only and at an average price of 56 cents each, they are proving too expensive for women in developing nations to purchase--especially for women who have intercourse frequently, Kaler said. In addition, supplies of the condoms are not steady, making them inaccessible as well as unaffordable, she added. For their female counterparts in North America, the female condom is almost an object of ridicule, and an uncomfortable reminder that disease lurks, Kaler said.

The focus for researchers is on developing microbicides--gels--that could be applied to deter the spread of the virus, rather than advocating for female-controlled preventive methods like the condom and diaphragm, which already exist, she added. The condom, which attaches to the cervix, also takes some initial training in learning to use, further hampering widespread acceptance, Kaler said.

In North America, the device needs to be marketed in such a way that women will see it as an empowering, even fashionable way to approach the issue of their own reproductive health. "Products need to be re-positioned by association with glamour and sexiness, rather than safety and protection," Kaler said.

In developing countries, advocates for the female condom need to have a stronger voice, and large-scale trials of the device need to proceed as quickly as possible, moving beyond pilot and acceptability studies. As well, it is important to take a longer view of the female condom’s benefit to society, Kaler said, noting that it took decades for positive changes to show up with such devices as tampons and male condoms.

"We should look at the number of potential infections averted."

Bev Betkowski | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>