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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UNITED STATES: Condom Contest Produces 812 Ideas for Improvement


New York Times (11.20.2013)

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the 11 winners of its Next Generation Condom contest. The contest, designed to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies by developing a condom that men would use regularly, garnered more than 800 applications. Winners each received $100,000 and could receive up to $1 million after the development of their ideas. Entries came from around the globe, including a condom manufacturer in India and British design consultants whose prior work included vacuum cleaners, said Steven Buchsbaum, a Gates Foundation official. Ideas focused on either enhancing or preserving pleasure or on making it easier to put on. “In sub-Saharan Africa, sex is basically done with low light and it might be very difficult to see the direction of the condom,” said Dr. Papa Salif Sow, a Gates senior program officer. Materials proposed for use included latex, reconstituted collagen, polyethylene plastic, polyurethane, beef tendons, and fish skin. Ideas ranged from “shape memory” to mold instantly to a specific man, pull tabs, and a condom that would “[cling] like Saran Wrap rather than squeeze.” Gates Foundation Program Officer Stephen Ward said that the problems tackled included “improving lubrication, internal friction, external friction, [and] heat transfer.” Two or more grantees might be teamed to make one design, he added. “There’s not one magic bullet,” he said. “The idea is making [condoms] easier for people to use in the moment, in the dark, whatever situation they’re in.”


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Information in this article was accurate in November 21, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.