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Redesigning the condom for both pleasure and usability

Would a better-feeling condom result in lower numbers of STDs?
Would a better-feeling condom result in lower numbers of STDs?
Photo by Robert Elyov via Flickr Creative Commons

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Personal computer. Philanthropy. And now, you can add prophylactic to the list of things Bill Gates is working to revolutionize. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of its Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, is offering a $100,000 grant for any organization or aspirant engineer to design a next generation condom to make it more widely-used.

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It’s part of the foundation’s efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases. "The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable, particularly given that the decisions about use must be made just prior to intercourse," the challenge read. "Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure?" The challenge ends May 7.


Davin Wedel, President and Founder of Global Protection Corp. and ONE Condoms in Boston, Mass.

Sarah MacCarthy, Global Health and Human Rights fellow at the Program of Global Health and Human Rights at the Institute of Global Health at USC. Fellow at Brown University.