New female condom to be launched in Zimbabwe

Harare: An AIDS support organisation in Zimbabwe will launch a new and modified female condom after the first one launched in the country was discontinued as it "made a lot of noise during the act".

Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN) information manager Evince Mugumbate said her organisation will launch the female condom in rural Gokwe, about 300 km west of Harare, to promote higher usage of the product in the fight against HIV.

Mugumbate told Xinhua that while the male condom was more popular, the female one would empower women to negotiate for safe sex.

The group will distribute more than 2,000 female condoms, in collaboration with the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council.

The female condom was launched in the country in 1997 after WASN lobbied parliament for its introduction, but it has continued to play second fiddle to its male partner.

"The first polyurethane female condom called FC1 made a lot of noise during the act, but the problem has been rectified by substituting the polyurethane with nitrile on the FC2 condom," Mugumbate was quoted as saying.

"It was launched as a result of a research that was done in Gokwe as to whether it is good for women to use it. That`s why we want to re-launch it in Gokwe so that we remind especially the women that it`s still good for them to use the condom."

"Men actually like it but it`s us women who are not empowered enough to initiate the use of the female condom. That`s why we are launching it so that we start rigorous campaigns towards its usage," she said.

The condom will be launched Nov 27, four days ahead of the World Aids Day Dec 1.

In Africa, the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV remains high with 59 percent of all people living with HIV being women.