India’s NACO To Distribute 1.5M Female Condoms to Sex Workers in Four States
Approximately 1.5 million female condoms will be distributed and marketed to commercial sex workers in four Indian states this year in an attempt to provide women with a method of HIV prevention, IANS/Hindustan Times reports. Sujatha Rao, director-general of the National AIDS Control Organisation, said that female condoms were introduced to commercial sex workers through a 2007 pilot program and that the program will be expanded because of its high success rate. Rao added that the female condom is still a new product and that "demand for it has to be generated." NACO will focus the program on Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The condoms will be promoted through a social marketing campaign with NACO's 200 partner nongovernmental organizations that run targeted intervention sites for commercial sex workers.
According to IANS/Times, the female condoms will be manufactured for the Indian market by Hindustan Latex through a technology transfer from the Female Health Company, which produces female condoms used worldwide. Kavitha Potturi of HLFPPT, the non-for-profit wing of Hindustan Latex, said that the four states will have "100% coverage" and that the product is "expected to benefit a population of 200,000 sex workers." According to FHC, cost has been the largest barrier to making female condoms widely available to women at risk of HIV. In addition, the company said that by manufacturing the female condoms in India, the cost per condom will decrease from 45 rupees, or about $1, to 23 rupees, or about 51 cents. Commercial sex workers will be able to buy the female condoms for three rupees, or about 6 cents, under the program, compared with the five rupees, or about 11 cents, needed to buy female condoms last year (Thapar, IANS/Hindustan Times, 9/9).