FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 19 November 2013
Sunday December 1st marks World AIDS Day where people worldwide unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and commemorate people who have died. This year Positive Women Inc. is bringing attention to the female condom and the Paper Doll Campaign calling for the government to make the female condom available and subsidised in New Zealand.
The female condom has been on the market since 1993 and the UN characterises them as essential commodities for women’s health. It protects women against pregnancy, HIV, and other STIs, and does not need to be negotiated with men to be used, can be inserted preemptively, has no side effects and you don’t have to see a health provider to get it. It is the perfect product to help achieve the UNAIDS target of Getting to Zero by 2015 which is again this year’s World AIDS Day theme.
Jane Bruning, National Coordinator of Positive Women Inc., the national support organisation for women and families living with HIV and AIDS, says, “The female condom empowers women to take control over their sexual health and safety and it should be a cheap and accessible option. We are urging the government to allow them to be made available in New Zealand”.
PWI was selling FC2 female condoms imported from Australia but in 2012 received a strongly worded letter from MedSafe to cease or face a large fine as the selling of female condoms is illegal. The FC2 is made of nitrile, a synthetic latex that does not have the required approval. PWI has asked MedSafe if they can sell female condoms made of latex, which is what male condoms are made of, but this inquiry has been met by silence. It wasn’t long after PWI sent letters to all government officials with health portfolios asking for their support that MedSafe announced that they were undertaking a consultation process on the FC2.
PWI’s Paper Doll Campaign is a continuation of a 2011 international campaign that sought to increase the awareness, education, and availability of the female condom. 2000 signed paper dolls will be presented to the NZ parliament on International Women’s Day 2014.
In recent developments a spokesperson from GLYDE Healthcare NZ (newly appointed distributor for the FC2 in NZ) confirmed a recent discussion with MedSafe that the recommendation & NZ standard for female condoms would be with the Minister of Health for approval by Christmas, which is fantastic news for women in NZ but is only the first hurdle in making these more affordable for everyone. Positive Women Inc. believes its three yearlong campaign has contributed to these changes.
Bruning says, “The NZ government needs to know that the female condom is a sound product that NZ women can request and that there is growing demand for it.”
NOTES TO JOURNALISTS
Positive Women Inc. became involved in the promotion and education of the female condom with their participation in the international Paper Doll Campaign three years ago. At events, members of the public wrote messages of support for female condoms on paper dolls. All the paper dolls from all over the world were made into massive chains and presented at an international conference on female condoms in the Netherlands and to the UN Population Fund highlighting the growing worldwide demand for female condoms. After the campaign was finished, PWI got permission to continue the campaign nationally.
Female condoms have several advantages:
Positive Women Inc. is an organisation providing support to women and families living with HIV. Positive Women Inc. also aims to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS in the community through educational programmes with a focus on prevention and de-stigmatisation.
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