Sex & Relationships

Bill Gates to Pay $100,000 for a Better Condom

Gates challenge on how to get people around the world to wear condoms.

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Bill Gates is offering $100,000 in start-up money to build a condom that will encourage usage around the world to prevent the spread of STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

Grand Challenges in Global Health is a $100 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation project that aims to creatively solve some of the world’s toughest health problems. In Round 11 of the challenges, the Gates state they are searching for the “Next Generation Condom” that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use.”

Other desired factors include easy use, better packaging, new designs and “attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired.” 

The challenge states that men believe condoms decrease sexual pleasure, and therefore fail to use them consistently. Female condoms have their issues as well — they require proper insertion and are more expensive.

The challenge states:

Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure?  If so, would such a product lead to substantial benefits for global health, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs?

Hopefully, the Gates plan on providing these future condoms for free. Because the idea that pleasure trumps safety when it comes to contraception is often distorted. Most people would probably choose safety if birth control were readily available. That’s why we must look at both birth control access and affordability.

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet. 

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