ERJ staff report (BC)
Seattle, USA – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering a $100,000 grant to anyone who can come up with an improved “next generation” condom.
"We are looking for a design which significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use," the Foundation said.
Foundation programme officers Papa Salif Sow and Stephen Ward added: "It may seem obvious, but the success and impact of any public health tool hinges on its being used consistently and correctly by those who need it.”
Researchers have found that women, particularly those in the sex trade, often face difficulties negotiating condom use, while most men prefer sex without a condom.
Sow and Ward concluded: "We have a product that is safe and effective, but underutilised. What if we could develop a condom that would provide all the benefit of our current versions, without the drawbacks? Even better, what if we could develop one that was preferred to no condom?"
"[Factors which might] increase uptake include attributes that increase ease-of-use for male and female condoms, for example better packaging or designs that are easier to apply properly. … Attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired."
The condom award features in the foundation’s latest round of "Grand Challenges Explorations" grants, designed to encourage scientists to come up with "bold" ideas to fight international health challenges.
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