TIME Examines Debate Over Using Female Condom To Fight HIV/AIDS In Uganda

TIME examines the debate over the Ugandan government’s recent decision to use money from the U.N. Population Fund to purchase and distribute 100,000 female condoms to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Supporters of the government’s plan say female condoms increase a woman’s ability to negotiate with her partner. “The main issue was the desire for women to be able to say, ‘OK, you’re not going to use yours, then let’s use mine,'” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, said.

“Many experts, however, disagree,” fearing instead, “that by offering yet another choice, the government’s move may only distract from other drug and condom programs,” the magazine writes. Also, as the article notes, the female condom, which is more expensive than the male condom, has been slow to catch on since its introduction in the 1990s.

“Uganda sees the female condom as one way to regain the success the nation had in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the 1990s. After slashing its AIDS rate from more than 20% in the late ’80s to about 6% in 2000, Uganda saw a leveling off of AIDS cases and then a slight rise,” according to the magazine.

Beginning this year, the government will distribute the condoms in two regions in Uganda and will consider extending the program with the support of donors, according to TIME. However, the magazine writes, “[m]ajor donors including PEPFAR say they are not likely to back the female condom in Uganda.” Mike Strong, coordinator for PEPFAR in Uganda, suggested the government focus on the programs already in progress rather than starting from scratch with new programs (Wadhams, 8/30).