Policy makers lament women’s vulnerability to HIV infection, yet for 15 years they have failed to utilise a technology which can help women to protect and empower themselves. The female condom is the only female-initiated method which provides protection from HIV infection; it also prevents unwanted pregnancy. Studies have shown it is acceptable to users, increases the proportion of protected sex acts, and is cost-effective when provided in addition to male condoms. Yet most women cannot access female condoms. New female-initiated technologies such as microbicides will not be available for many years. Female condoms exist now; the push for universal access to them should begin now.
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