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Uganda: "Less noisy" female condom proves a hit

December 22, 2009
KAMPALA, 22 December 2009 (PlusNews) - Ten months after being re-launched, a new brand of female condom has proven popular among a test group of Ugandan women, according to a study.

FC2 was launched in February; the government stopped distributing the original female condom, FC1, in 2007 on the grounds that women had complained it was smelly and noisy during sex.

"The new condom has improved features and will enable women to have a procedure within their control to give them more choices for prevention [of HIV and unwanted pregnancies]," said Vashta Kibirige, the coordinator of the condom unit at the Ministry of Health.

"The women [surveyed] say they like this version of the condom better and they are ready to use it," said Janeva Busingye, coordinator of the Most at Risk Populations Initiative project, which carried out the study in the capital, Kampala.

The UN Population Fund and the NGO, Programme for Accessible health Communication and Education, are spearheading the re-launch of the female condom, which is still in the sensitisation stage and will become available to the public in 2010.

The women questioned said the new condom was less noisy, more comfortable and well lubricated, increasing their sexual pleasure. It also has no smell and can be inserted in the vagina at least eight hours before sex, which the women liked a lot.

The Health Ministry and its partners have so far trained women in Kampala to teach other women the benefits of the female condom. According to Kibirige, they hoped the condom would become more popular in other regions after a situation analysis in 2008 revealed that cultural barriers and lack of proper education had prevented their use in some parts of the country.

Targeting MSM

According to an official at the sexually transmitted diseases clinic at Mulago Hospital, Uganda's largest referral facility, men who have sex with men (MSM) would also be taught about the female condom. Uganda has no official policy for prevention of HIV among MSM, and outlaws homosexual sex.

"We shall promote it among MSM because when we were sensitising people they expressed a need for them; they use for them for anal sex after removing the ring," the official said.

At each end of the female condom is a flexible ring; at the closed end of the sheath, the flexible ring is inserted into the vagina or anus to hold the condom in place - this ring is sometimes removed during anal sex to reduce the possibility of rectal injury.

A 2003 study of the acceptability and safety of a brand of female condom for anal sex between men found incidents of condom breakage, semen spillage and rectal bleeding to be similar for the male and female condom, but slippage was more frequent with female than male condoms. The authors recommended design modifications and training in the use of the female condom for anal sex.



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