Many of you may be unaware that India holds the record for having the biggest number of HIV-AIDS cases in the whole world. According to the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, India has 5.7 million cases with some reports estimating the number could go up to 20 million by 2010. The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) of India disclosed that 86 percent of the country’s HIV cases were caused by sexual transmission with 30 percent of the total cases involving prostitutes.
But there’s good news now as steps are being taken to find solutions to this grim scenario. One of them is the introduction and widespread promotion of the use of female condoms. This has somehow given Indian women the freedom to take control of their reproductive health and not depend only on men in using condom during their sexual encounters. With the female condom, the women are given their own options to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
It has been a known fact that condoms are very effective contraceptives and protection against STDs. The male and the female condoms look very similar and work the same way only that the female condom can be initiated by the woman herself before engaging in sexual intercourse. A female condom is a thin, flexible and loose-fitting plastic tube worn inside the vagina. At the closed end of the tube is a soft ring that covers the cervix during intercourse. With that in place, a man’s semen and other bodily fluids is prevented from getting in contact with a woman’s own bodily fluids.
In India, the female condom was first introduced in 2001 and since then, many women there have recognized its benefits. But while it is still far from reaching the male condom market which sells an estimated two billion condoms each year, the reception among Indian women is gaining ground.
The launching of female condoms there was targeted at fighting HIV/AIDS, a serious health problem among India’s sexual workers. After the initial promotion, Indian voluntary organizations involved reported an 80 to 90 percent effectiveness of the female condom.
Currently, there are two types of female condom that are available worldwide – the FC and FC2. The FC female condom is made from polyurethane and is about 6.5 inches long. Inside is a silicone-based lubricant but additional lubrication can be used if needed. The FC2 product was introduced in 2005 and has the same design as the original female condom. The only difference is that FC2 is made of nitrile making it cheaper to produce.
A great benefit of these female condoms is that they can be inserted even up to eight hours before a sexual intercourse. Also, with the materials used, there is no likelihood of an allergic reaction compared to latex. The female condoms can be used with both oil-based and water-based lubricants. Additionally, they require no special storage as both polyurethane and nitrile are not affected by temperature change and dampness.
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