Almost six months after receiving FDA approval as an HIV-prevention method, the FC2 female condom is now available in the United States.
The formal announcement was made in Atlanta last week at the Southeastern Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health Summit, a coalition of reproductive health advocates. The summit was hosted by SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective.
The FC2 female condom is a second generation product developed by the Chicago-based Female Health Company. Currently available only to state health agencies and nonprofit organizations, the FC2 will be sold in CVS stores in the Washington, D.C. area starting in December, FHC’s senior strategic adviser Mary Ann Leeper told Reuters.
Washington, D.C. health officials released a report in March showing that at least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS — a rate that is on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.
Female Health Company is looking for a marketing partner to help promote FC2 directly to consumers.
“We need the other company to really make a dent into the consumer market,” said Leeper.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the past two decades, the percentage of women among all people living with HIV in the United States has increased from 8 percent to 27 percent. African American women account for 66 percent of new AIDS cases among American women; they are 21 times more likely to contract HIV than white women, while Latino women are five times more likely.
“America’s HIV epidemic isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse, and African American and Latino women are disproportionately impacted,” said Dazon Dixon Diallo, founder and president of SisterLove, a grassroots service organization that supports HIV/AIDS prevention and reproductive health programs for women in the Atlanta area. “It’s time to provide women in heavily impacted communities with expanded access to affordable women-controlled options, and the female condom becomes that choice. Women will use it if they have it.”
Female Health Company says the FC2 is thinner and quieter than its predecessor, the FC1 female condom. The FC2 is made of synthetic nitrile, a latex alternative, so it’s safe to use with both oil and water-based lubricants. Here’s information (pdf) about how to insert the condom. There’s also an animated video demonstration. More resources from FCH are available here.
FHC has also launched a new site, www.fc2femalecondom.com, which includes tiered pricing information for ordering female condoms directly (minimum of 25,000). The maximum price of 82 cents per condom is 30 percent less than the price paid for FC1. A retail price has not been determined.
Though female condoms are not popular in the United States, the FC2 has been available in other countries since 2006. The U.S. Agency for International Development had lobbied for the FDA’s approval — a lengthy and expensive process – so it could be purchased for U.S.-funded global HIV-prevention programs.
Earlier this year, Audacia Ray, program officer for online communications and campaigns at the International Women’s Health Coalition, described other female condom prototypes that are being actively tested and promoted outside of the United States, especially in Africa.