When is the last time you used a female condom? If you're like 99% of the population, you probably have never even tried one. But the city of Washington, D.C. is seeking to change that with their new initiative.
D.C. has one of the highest rates of HIV in the country with 3% of the population over the age of 12 living with HIV or AIDS. According to guidelines set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, D.C. is suffering from a "severe epidemic." In attempts to curb the spread of the disease, the city's health department has launched an outreach program to promote the use of female condoms. The MAC AIDS fund gave D.C. a $500,000 grant to get it started. This will fund the distribution of 500,000 free condoms.
But the problem is that most people just don't want to use them. Even though they give women control of STD protection, and it may even provide better protection than a regular condom, most women can't get over the weird-factor. Though the FDA has approved an updated version, the original female condom was expensive and noisy (it "sounded like a plastic bag crinkling when used," which probably killed the mood).
Plus, it's hard to put in. Part of the task that volunteers signed up for includes giving demonstrations of how the sheath-like pieces of plastic work. Members of community groups have set up tables on the street, where they invite passing pedestrians to stop by, learn a little about the condoms, and pick up a few free samples. But even with the friendly educators, the female condom might never really catch on with men - even the condom-friendly dudes. "Men are intimidated by trying new things, particularly things we don't have control of," remarked one bystander. Which was kind of the point.