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 Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

nachricht Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
03.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>