Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bill Gates - Better Condoms With $100,000 Reward

Gates Wants A More Pleasurable Condom

Billionaire Bill Gates is offering $100,000 for an inventor to come up with a better condom. Through the non-profit Grand Challenges In Global Health, sought is  a "Next Generation Condom" that significantly preserves or "enhances pleasure" says a press release, in order to improve "uptake and regular use" by couples.

The challenge's website is associated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and the Wellcome Trust.

The current rate of global condom production is 15 billion units/year with an estimated 750 million users and a steadily growing market, says the challenge website.

Noted is the 400-year history of the use of condoms, but little has taken place in technological improvements in the past 50 years other than the use of latex and quality control that allows quality testing of each individual condom.  It is suggested that modern material science and our latest understanding of neurobiology might be applied to improve the design of condoms.

"Additional concepts that 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 properly apply. In addition, attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired."

"When used properly, they reliably protect females from pregnancy and both partners from numerous STIs, including HIV transmission, making them a prime example of a multi-purpose prevention technology (MPT). Their use does not require a prescription, a skilled health provider or in fact any healthcare provider or healthcare delivery system.

"There are no adverse events associated with their use, a statement that cannot be made for any other contraceptive or STI-preventive product. They are user controlled, user applied devices that are simple to use and easily transported. These characteristics make male condoms the perfect MPT product, especially for low resource settings."

The site says "The one major drawback to more universal use of male condoms is the lack of perceived incentive for consistent use. The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable, particularly given that the decisions about use must be made just prior to intercourse".

They ask,  "Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure? If so, would such a product lead to substantial benefits for global health, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs?"

Photo credit: Flegmus

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