20,000 Voices Strong – A Chain of Demand for Improved Access to Female Condoms

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International Female Condom Advocates Join Forces to Bust Myths and Break Barriers to Effective Prevention at the XIX International AIDS Conference.

The female condom is the only woman-initiated prevention method that provides dual protection against sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, and unwanted pregnancy.

The Universal Access to Female Condoms (UAFC) Joint Programme, a joint initiative of four Netherlands-based organizations, is mobilizing a global campaign to increase accessibility, availability and affordability of female condoms.

UAFC will host a joint press conference on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 11:00am with the Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE) during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., taking place July 22-July 27, 2012.

The press conference, “Busting the Myth: 20,000 Voices Prove We Want Female Condoms Now,” highlights the fact that many women and men around the world are calling for increased access to female condoms as a preferred form of dual-protection against unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. However, in many countries, this method of protection is unavailable. Even in countries where female condoms are available, supply remains limited, inaccessible or unaffordable for those who need it most. The event will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Press Conference Room 3.

Currently, millions of women do not have access to affordable contraceptive and protective measures. Female condoms are a cost-effective and lifesaving tool – yet they represent only one percent of all condoms distributed worldwide.i

During the weeklong International AIDS Conference, UAFC is also highly visible through its Paper Doll Campaign. The campaign works with more than 60 partner organizations in nearly 30 countries to raise awareness and advocate for female condoms. The paper dolls showcase personal messages and stories about the importance of female condoms. When linked together, they provide a powerful visual for the large unmet demand that exists for female condoms.

An exhibition with thousands of dolls will be on display in Exhibition area Hall C from the beginning of the conference. UAFC will collect additional dolls throughout the conference in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest chain of paper dolls. The goal is to break the record of 27,664 dolls by the last day of the conference on Friday, July 27, 2012. A record-breaking chain would be greater than 3.7 miles (6km) in length.

"The female condom is the only woman-initiated prevention method that provides dual protection against sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, and unwanted pregnancy,” said Marie Christine Siemerink, UAFC programme coordinator. “Distribution of the female condom can lead to significant cost savings, as evidenced by a Washington, D.C. program which found that use of female condoms can lead to more than $8 million in saved medical costs.”ii

To participate in the Paper Doll Campaign and help UAFC and its partners break the record, visit http://www.sign4femalecondoms.org.

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About the Universal Access to Female Condoms Joint Programme
The Universal Access to Female Condoms (UAFC) Joint Programme started in 2008 with the aim of making female condoms accessible, affordable and available for all. The ultimate goal of the programme is to contribute to a decrease in new HIV-infections and STIs; to a decrease of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies, and to the empowerment of women by enabling them to exercise power over their own sexual and reproductive health. The programme is an initiative of four Netherlands organizations: Oxfam Novib, Rutgers WPF, i+solutions, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

http://www.condoms4all.org

i. USAID. Technical Guidance: “The Female Condom”. 2011.
ii. Government of the District of Columbia, Department of Health. Heterosexual Relationships and HIV in Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: 2012.

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Regan Hiatt
JPA
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