India To Manufacture, Distribute Low-Cost Female Condoms To Help Curb Spread of HIV
India plans to launch a program to manufacture and distribute low-cost female condoms in an effort to curb the spread of HIV among women, the Times of India reports. The condoms will each cost five Rupees, or about 12 cents, according to the Times. Under the first phase of the program, the National AIDS Control Organisation is procuring about 1.5 million female condoms from the Female Health Company. The condoms will be provided to commercial sex workers and married women in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal during the next eight months, and a decision about whether to implement the program nationwide will be made after reviewing the data from these states.
According to Manoj Gopalakrishna of Hindustan Latex Limited, the company has established a female condom manufacturing site in Kochi, India. FHC has provided Hindustan with the necessary condom manufacturing technology, Gopalakrishna said, adding that Hindustan will manufacture about 10 million female condoms annually. Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said, "When a male partner refuses to wear a condom, women need self-initiated methods to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancies and HIV/AIDS."
NACO Director-General Sujatha Rao said that a yearlong study was conducted ahead of the program and involved 60,000 women in eight states. The study included two family planning programs and 13 locations, 11 of which involved high-risk groups like sex workers. The study found that 60% of women re-purchased the condoms after initial purchase and that more than 98% of users found the condoms comfortable. NACO through the United Nations Population Fund procured 500,000 female condoms from FHC for the study (Sinha, Times of India, 3/6).