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Jamais Cascio, 30 Aug 05

The so-called "female condom," which never quite took off in the US and Europe, is becoming a key tool in the fight against AIDS in the developing world. The somewhat tricky insertion process, the feel of it, and the noise -- all of which were negatives to Western users -- have turned out to be wildly appealing in numerous markets. Over 10 million female condoms have been sold in the developing world since the late 1990s. The Guardian has the details (and discusses the use of the female condom in relatively graphic biological terminology; readers sensitive to frank discussions of sexuality should take note).

The female condom has been particularly important in parts of the developing world ravaged by AIDS, as it gives women a way to protect their own health without having to demand that their male partners use traditional condoms. Moreover, the tickling sensations for the male partners from the polyurethane have become a selling point, prompting prostitutes in a number of countries to charge more for sex with the female condom. In Zimbabwe, the term "kaytecyenza" has been coined to reflect this sensation and the excitement it provides.

With women making up nearly half the HIV cases globally -- and often far more in the developing world -- anything that both increases the likelihood of safer sex practices and puts the power of use into the hands of women has to count as seriously worldchanging.

(Thank you, Janice!)

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