FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 4th November 2014

POSITIVE WOMEN INC. TAKING THE CALL FOR SUBSIDISING FEMALE CONDOMS TO PARLIAMENT TOMORROW

Jane Bruning, National Coordinator of Positive Women Inc., the national support organisation for women and families living with HIV and AIDS, has been invited to present at a Health Select Committee meeting on the availability and subsidising of female condoms in New Zealand.

MP’s will consider the petition made by Positive Women Inc. calling for greater accessibility and variety of female condoms and that they be subsidised by the government tomorrow, Tuesday 5th November, Room 4 Parliament House.

Positive Women Inc. campaigned for three years for access to female condoms in New Zealand and scored a significant victory when the Ministry of Health finally approved the sale of the FC2 Female Condom in New Zealand in April this year. Now that they are available the obvious next step is to make them more affordable by securing the same level of variety and subsidy that the male condom receives.

”Female condoms empower women to take control over their sexual health and safety making it an important option for women. But they need to be an affordable option”, says Jane Bruning, “And it is just as important to provide a variety of options. Currently only one of the six different kinds of female condoms is permitted for sale in New Zealand”.

Male condoms are free at Sexual Health clinics, with a prescription, and is free for people living with HIV. At the retail level, a 12-pack of male condoms sells for between $15 and $17. The FC2 retails for $12 for a pack of three or $5 per condom which puts it out of reach for the average New Zealander.

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NOTES TO JOURNALISTS

Positive Women Inc. (PWI) 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. On Friday March 7th, the eve of International Women’s Day, Positive Women Inc. presented hundreds of paper dolls to Labour MP Carol Beaumont, Spokesperson for Women's Affairs, on the steps of Parliament. It was intended that Carol Beaumont would present our petition to the Ministry of Health when they met to discuss the MedSafe recommendation.

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

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.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, March 7th 2014 PWI presented hundreds of paper dolls with their messages of support and a petition from the NZ public to Labour MP Carol Beaumont, Spokesperson for Women's Affairs with the hope that this would lend support to the Ministry of Health approving the sale of female condoms in New Zealand. Exactly one month later it was announced that Tony Ryall, Minister of Health had approved an amendment to the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 to allow for the sale of female condoms within New Zealand. FC2 condoms became publicly available via the GLYDE Healthcare website from May 1st and retail stockists across New Zealand had them for sale the next day.

Positive Women Inc. is an organisation providing support to women and families living with HIV and 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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For further comment please contact:

Jane Bruning, National Coordinator
Positive Women Inc.
Phone: 09 623 9183; Email: Jane@positivewomen.nz; www.positivewomen.nz 
Mobile : 021 550 984