The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 million people are infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) every day. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20 million new cases of STDs occur every year, resulting in $16 billion in healthcare costs. Almost half of the cases occur in young adults, ages 15 to 24. Methods, such as condoms, birth control, and sexual health education, are implemented as a means to reduce the risk of STDs.
Interestingly enough, while products like the iPhone and water bottles are constantly upgraded, condoms have remained stagnant in terms of production and design. The Food and Drug Administration regulates condoms, considering condoms as medical devices. In order for new condoms to launch into the consumer market, they must pass the regulations imposed by the FDA. One big obstacle that comes with designing new condoms is that condoms need to be tested in an experimental setting. However, since research participants can be put at risk with the potential of infections, proving the effectiveness of condoms becomes difficult, and this poses an issue with the production of new condoms.
The FDA has approved of only one type of condom: ones made of latex. During the same time latex condoms were gaining popularity, lambskin condoms were also being produced. Lambskin condoms are also known as natural membrane condoms. They are made from the intestinal linings of mammals. In comparison to the latex condoms, lambskin condoms are effective, strong, durable, but expensive. However, because the lambskin condoms did not pass the safety tests in laboratorial experiments, they were not as highly advertised and soon were pulled from the shelves. During this time, the AIDS epidemic was rising, and fear of the epidemic played a huge role in governing the practices of safe sex.
Condoms are effective in preventing most STDs and are 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy. In addition to feeling of discomforts and latex allergies, one of the biggest issues with condoms is that they do not get used. In a 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 45% of men and 63% of women did not use condoms when having sex with someone new. With the rising numbers of those getting infected with STDs yearly, these statistics are alarming, and it is important to start understanding the reasons behind why these cases are escalating.
Now in the year of 2015, we still have yet to see new condom products lining the shelves, and now, more than ever, is the time to promote this kind of change. A condom that not only is safe but one that also gets used would be an effective weapon in preventing and reducing the risks of sexually transmitted diseases in addition to promoting the practices of having safe sex and enjoying it, too.
Sources of Information:
WHO Fact Sheet
CDC Fact Sheet
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