Commentary & Opinion
Women Need to Take Lead in Safe Sex
April 26, 2010
"In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration gave its stamp of approval to a then-novel item: the female condom. At the time, AIDS awareness was growing. NBA star Magic Johnson had announced he was HIV-positive less than two years earlier. But the virus was still greatly feared and misunderstood. Condom use was urged as a matter of dire public health, and so women would finally protect themselves if their partner chose not to.
"Yet according to the Center for Health and Gender Equity, in 2007 about 11 billion male condoms were circulated worldwide compared with 26 million female ones. Cost used to be an issue, but it is no longer: The $4 female condom has been replaced by the 82-cent one.
"Though women have, indeed, come a long way, when it comes to sexual equality, we apparently still have a long way to go. But perhaps change is on the way.
"I live in Washington, D.C., and if I walk into a participating beauty salon, convenience store or high school, the FC2 female condom (FDA-approved last year) is available free of charge. Washington's campaign to protect women is being promoted through a $500,000 grant from the nonprofit MAC AIDS Fund.
"Washington has been ravaged by HIV/AIDS, with the highest rate in the country: Over 3 percent of adults are infected, according to a 2009 epidemiology report. Over a quarter of those are believed to be women. Chicago has launched a female condom awareness campaign, too, and hopefully other cities will follow. The statistics point to the urgency.
"The female condom is only one tool in helping women help themselves, but it's a critical one. It's high time that women have the opportunity to love their men while loving themselves just as much."
The author is founder of www.onbeingablacklawyer.com.
04.23.2010; Yolanda Young
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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