Washington DC Makes History with Female Condom Project
Washington DC is making history as the first city in the United States to distribute female condoms free. The plan is to begin the distribution of 500,000 female condoms within the next three weeks by making them available in beauty salons, convenience stores and high schools. The areas of the city with the highest HIV rates will be most heavily targeted.
A 2008 report showed DC to have an HIV/ AIDS rate of 3%. It has been shown that HIV/AIDS infection is the leading cause of death for black women 25-34 nationwide. The female condom project is an effort to change this for The District.
The project is funded through a $500,000 grant from the MAC AIDS Fund, a subsidiary of MAC Cosmetics.
The female condom has been available in Europe for nearly two decades, but was first approved for use in the United States by the FDA in 1993. The first version, FC1, was very expensive and ineffective. FC1 cost about $17 for a box of five.
A second version of the female condom, FC2 was approved by the FDA last year. FC2 is made with a thinner polyurethane that conducts body heat and enhances sexual sensation for men and women according to its designers at the Female Health Co.
CVS became the nation's first pharmacy to sell the new FC2 condom. The pharmacy has positioned the FC2 next to male condoms in it stores. A package of three female condoms sells for $6.50.
In addition to the female condom project, DC Department of Health (DOH) officials is pushing a new campaign: “Know Where You Stand.” The campaign encourages people in relationships to ask three questions: do we know our HIV status? Is it just the two of us? And do we use condoms?
As part of the outreach campaign, residents are able to find free HIV testing and get free condoms by calling 311 or going online at www.DCTakesOnHIV.com. In the District, residents can also text DCWRAP to 365247 to find the nearest free condom location. District residents can now order free condoms sent directly from DOH to them by ordering online at www.DCTakesOnHIV.com
The Washington Post
D.C. Department of Health