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Advocates up awareness for female condom use
Heads up for reproductive health and family planning clinics in California and Nevada: The Female Health Co.'s free FC2 Female Condom Experience Program is headed your way. Deadline for applications from clinics in the two states is Aug. 31, 2010, says Rebecca Kizaric, training manager for the Chicago-based company.
Since the non-latex FC2 condom was introduced in the United States in October 2009, the company has provided training and FC2 condoms to organizations in New York, Washington, DC, and Illinois in its efforts to broaden awareness and access across different regions of the United States. The company is reviewing program applications for North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, which were submitted prior to the May 30 deadline for those states, says Kizaric. Once organizations are selected, distribution and training will begin in these areas, she states.
The program allows organizations to receive an allocated amount of FC2 Female Condoms for distribution to their clients, free of charge. It is designed to promote the proper use of the FC2 Female Condom, as well as to receive feedback from organizations involved. Such feedback will help shape future distribution programs and training with respect to the use of the product, according to the company.
There are no fees incurred by the participating organizations, says Kizaric. Organizations that are chosen to participate in the program will receive an intensive FC2 Female Condom Training for their facility and a monthly supply of FC2 for an introductory period. At the end of each month, the organization will be required to fill in a monthly reporting form. FC2 quantities for each month are determined on a case-by-case basis based on a facility's client base, she notes.
Where to get condoms?
Are the FC2 condoms in retail distribution in the United States? According to Kizaric, the condoms are available for retail purchase online at sites such as Undercover Condoms (www.undercovercondoms.com) and Condom Country (www.condom.com).
As part of a retail pilot study, FC2 female condoms also are available in CVS stores across the Washington, DC, area, says Kizaric. The public/private partnership was launched in March 2010 and includes the MAC AIDS Fund of New York City; CVS Pharmacy of Woonsocket, RI; Washington AIDS Partnership and the DC Department of Health, both in Washington, DC; and the Female Health Co. Backed by a $500,000 grant from the MAC AIDS Fund, five local nonprofit organizations (Calvary Healthcare, Community Education Group, Our Place DC, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, and the Women's Collective) are distributing 500,000 female condoms through a grassroots prevention and education program in city neighborhoods hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. The condoms also are available for widespread purchase at 56 CVS pharmacy stores in the District.
"As the FC2 launch moves across the country, inquiries on where the public can purchase FC2 have increased dramatically," says Kizaric. "With the lower retail cost, expanding provider education/ training programs and acceptance of the new FC2, online retailers have reported a boost in interest for female condoms from consumers."
Cost for the FC2 condom is lower than the original FC1 condom. According to the company's web site, the maximum price to purchase the FC2 condoms from the company's two distributors Total Access Group in Santa Ana, CA, and Global Protection Corp. in Boston is $0.82 per unit regardless of quantity, about a 30% decrease from the FC1's original price.
Global awareness rises
Women around the globe are becoming familiar with the FC2 condom, thanks to heightened visibility of the product. The company shipped 3.5 million FC2 female condoms for distribution during the 2010 World Cup, held in the Republic of South Africa during June and July.
Advocates are pushing for increased funding and policy support for female condoms. A May 2010 Congressional briefing on female condoms focused on the subject, reports Kimberly Whipkey, senior associate for advocacy and outreach at the Washington, DC-based Center for Health And Gender Equity (CHANGE). The event was organized by CHANGE in cooperation with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and was co-sponsored by CHANGE, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Universal Access to Female Condoms Joint Programme, and the Embassy of the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Findings from the brief indicate an upward trend in the numbers of female condoms being shipped overseas, says Whipkey. For example, 2009 was the first year that Malawi received financial support for female condom commodities, says Whipkey. The United States shipped some 1.5 million female condoms in 2009 and is set to distribute 3.5 million in 2010, she reports.
Advocates are looking for support for educational efforts to accompany the increase in female condom shipments, says Whipkey. While the distribution of condoms is important, programs are needed to educate women and men on how to use the products, she notes.
Rebecca Kizaric, Female Health Co., 515 N. State St., Chicago IL 60654. Telephone: (312) 595-9123, Ext. 236. Fax: (312) 595-9122. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download an application form for the FC2 Female Condom Experience Program, go the FC2 web site, www.fc2.us.com. Select "Health Professionals," then "FC2 Experience Program."