Rio de Janeiro: The Brazilian health ministry announced Tuesday that it has acquired 20 million female condoms that will be distributed free to the people, mainly among women considered to be most vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.
The "third generation" condoms cost 27.3 million reais ($15.2 million) and are made of nitrile latex, according to a health ministry communique.
Brazil began distributing female condoms free in 1997 and through 2011 it had acquired 16 million of them, some 25 percent fewer than the number that will be distributed this year alone.
The free distribution of male condoms was begun long before that and just last year 493 million units were distributed, 45 percent more than in 2010.
The campaigns are part of Brazil`s anti-AIDS policy, which is considered to be a model by the UN and also includes the free distribution of the medications needed by people who have the disease.
Health authorities will begin distributing the female condoms in May, taking into account the criteria for vulnerability to STDs, a prioritization measure that will mainly benefit sex workers, victims of domestic violence, drug addicts and women who live with carriers of the HIV virus.
Also, women who have difficulty convincing their partners to use male condoms will receive the female condoms on a priority basis.
According to a 2008 health ministry survey, 90 percent of sexually active Brazilian women are familiar with or have heard about the female condom.