NYT on Female Condoms:
Rectums, Gays & Sodomy Omitted
The NY Times' piece on Tuesday in the Science section on the female condom talks about the device only in the context of vaginal intercourse and heterosexuals, which I find very odd given that straight people have anal sex, both for sexual stimulation and enjoyment, and as a form of birth control.
But the Gray Lady simply couldn't bring herself to say anal, anus, gay, men who have sex with men, homosexual, rectal or rectum in the story.
Memo to the Times: the female condom can easily be used during anal sex. Whether you're a woman or a man who engages in sodomy, the pouch can also stop diseases from spreading through the back door.
I've long been a champion of the female condom, which I refer to as an anal condom, as one effective way of stopping rectal transmission of HIV. Unfortunately, this internal life-saving pouch has never been promoted properly to gay and bisexual men by HIV prevention organizations, local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Click here to read the 1996 story from the Bay Area Reporter about the sad history of the federal government's unwillingness to approve and publicize the female condom for gay anal sex.
What is needed at this point, after the Times' omission of the rectum and gay men from its article, is a look by the gay and mainstream corporate press and activists concerned about HIV prevention, into any efforts targeting gays to use internal pouches for butt-sex and if there is research underway looking at efficacy and acceptability for female/anal/internal pouches in the gay community.
The female condom has never caught on in the United States. But in the third world, where it was introduced in the late 1990s, public health workers hoped it would overthrow the politics of the bedroom, empower women and stop the AIDS epidemic in its tracks.
It did not. Female condoms never really caught on there, either.
Only about 12 million female condoms are delivered each year in poor countries, compared with about 6 billion male condoms. Couples complained that the female version was awkward, unsightly, noisy and slippery — or, as Mitchell Warren, who was one of its earliest champions, now says, “the yuck factor was a problem.” Many women tried it, but in the end, it was adopted mainly by prostitutes.
Now scientists are trying again. A new design — much the same at one end, different at the other — has been developed, and its makers hope it will succeed where its predecessor failed.
“Over 15 years, there’s been no real competition, no second-generation product,” said Michael J. Free, head of technology at PATH, a nonprofit group based in Seattle that did the redesign. “There’s no lack of interest, but we’ve been stalled.”
However, the new design does not overcome the glaring drawback that doomed the first to be a niche product: it cannot be used secretly. For that reason, married women, now one of the highest risk groups for AIDS in poor countries, rarely use it.