Female Condom FC2 'Approved For Sale' in New Zealand to Fight HIV

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New Zealand has finally approved the sale of female condoms in the country.

Kiwi women can now buy the FC2 female condom, allowing them to take control of their sexual health and safety. Positive Women Inc (PWI), the national support organization for women and families living with HIV, said New Zealand Minister of Health Tony Ryall has approved the proposed amendment to the Contraception, Sterilisation, Abortion Act 1977.

The change will make it possible to sell female condoms in the country. PWI has urged the government to allow the sale of female condoms for more than three years through the organization's Paper Doll Campaign. In March, PWI National Coordinator Jane Bruning had stood on Parliament's steps and handed out paper dolls with a petition to Labor MP Carol Beaumont. Beumont is the spokesman for Women's Affairs.

Bruning hoped the Paper Doll Campaign would help the Ministry of Health's approval of female condoms in New Zealand.  She said PWI is "ecstatic" that women in New Zealand will finally get access to female condoms. 

She added the next step will be to ensure the FC2 is subsidized, noting female condoms should not only be available and affordable but should also be treated in the same level as a male condom to help fight HIV and AIDS.

The first female condom was introduced to women in 1993 as the FC1 or Femidom or Reality. In 2007, a cheaper model was found to be less noisy and softer was the FC2. U.S. authorities also approved the FC2 for use in 2009.

Despite the availability of female condoms, women do not seem to use them often. International donors distributed 140 male condoms for each female condom they give. A previous report mentioned several barriers to the underuse of female condoms. One is the cost with male condoms costing only $0.03 compared to the female condom at $0.60 each.

There were also few research studies to support their effectiveness in fighting infections and sexually transmitted diseases. The lack of support from lawmakers, low awareness rate among women and their sexual partners also contribute to underuse.

But the approval of its sale in New Zealand may bring new hope to advocates of women empowerment.

Managing Director of Glyde Healthcare NZ Dane McIndoe said the approval of the female condom in New Zealand is a "massive win for all women" in the country.  GLYDE also serves as the distributor of the FC2 female condom which will be made available on May 1.

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