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HIV and AIDS women's health advocates at the International AIDS Conference have criticized the lack of funding and policy support from international donors and governments for female condoms, which are a critical woman-initiated tool for fighting the HIV epidemic.
"If you have access to a female condom, you can protect your partner, and if you are HIV positive you can protect yourself from reinfection and unwanted pregnancy" said Carol Nawina Nyrienda, national coordinator of the Community Initiative for TB, HIV/AIDS & Malaria (CITAM+) in Zambia. Nyrienda, who contracted HIV from her husband, underscored the need for a woman-initiated protection option. "We cannot depend on our partners to save our own lives," she said.
Women all over the world have expressed a demand for the female condom but donors and governments have yet to provide corresponding funding and program support. While the United States government has increased its investment in female condoms, women's health advocates note that more significant resources are needed to achieve a woman-focused approach to HIV/AIDS.
"The true travesty is in Sub-Saharan Africa," said Lucie van Mens, coordinator of the Universal Access to Female Condoms Joint Programme, in which Oxfam is a partner. "Women make up an estimated 60 percent of adults living with the virus, yet female condoms are only available at a rate of one for every 300 women per year. We have to approach the HIV and AIDS epidemic with women in mind, and female condoms are a critical component to that."
"Female condoms are vitally important in the fight against HIV and AIDS, particularly as it empowers women to take the initiative in their own sexual health," said Jim Clarken, head of the Oxfam delegation at the International AIDS Conference.
Women's health advocates at the press conference said further research and development is needed in order to diversify the range of products on the market and to reduce costs.
Watch the video: The female condom is here to stay!
Notes to editors
Nicole Johnston, +27 82 468 1905, firstname.lastname@example.org