A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Policy makers lament women’s vulnerablity to HIV infection, yet for 15 years they have failed to utilise a technology which can help women to protect and empower themselves. The female condom is the only female-initiated method which provides protection from HIV infection; it also prevents unwanted pregnancy.
Studies have shown it is acceptable to users, increases the proportion of protected sex acts, and is cost-effective when provided in addition to male condoms. Yet most women cannot access female condoms. New female-initiated technologies such as microbicides will not be available for many years.
Female condoms exist now; the push for universal access to them should begin now.