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Custom Made: India Distributes Female, Gay Condoms

Indian women and gay men, two marginalized populations, gain control over their lives and personal liberation from condoms made just for them.

Female condoms have become increasingly popular, thanks to an ambitious government initiative. While the female condoms protect women at risk of contracting HIV from their husbands, the freedom provided by the condoms also extends to contraceptive benefits, and an overall feeling of increased control.

The response from women and their husbands has been better than expected. But, despite reported progress, providing female condoms is not enough; women must learn how to communicate with their partners. Dr. Linda Cottler, who researches HIV prevention efforts, explains the challenge in India:

Intimate partner violence is common, and it occurs because women ask their partners to use condoms. Some women in India think that they can wash their or their partners' genitals with bleach, alcohol, or water as a way to protect themselves from the virus. These myths must be countered with better education.

Walking a fine line, India also has plans to distribute a more effective, for-gay-men condom through non-profits and community groups. To find out why this plan is so radical,


Indian law prohibits homosexual acts, but the country must face the fact that its homosexual men are at high-risk for infection. Since the Indian government doesn't condone homosexuality, the condoms get marketed as "Super Strong Condoms" or "Stud Condoms." It's encouraging to see disadvantaged individuals gaining control of their lives.


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