Planned Parenthood of South Africa, the Reproductive Health Research Unit, the Society of Family Health, and the South African Department of Health will supply the female condom free of charge to South African women. The female condom offers some protection against contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted disease (STDs), which is especially needed in South Africa where over 4 million adults are infected with HIV/AIDS. In sub-Saharan Africa in general, women are much more likely to have HIV/AIDS. According to participants in 12th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa, of the 28.1 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, 55 percent are women.
A study published in the fall issue of the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association revealed that financial dependence on male partners and the threat of violence for refusing sex are two of the primary reasons preventing women from protecting themselves against HIV. The study found that only 12.8% of the women surveyed had ever used a condom and about a third had never even seen a condom. Although the overwhelming majority of women said that they knew condoms could prevent transmission of HIV, 46.1% did not think they had the right to insist their partner use a condom and 28.5% said their partners would threaten to use violence if asked to use condoms.