Jeff Spieler, a science adviser with USAID's Office of Population and Reproductive Health, said the female condom's future may depend on whether its promoters can develop a private-sector market. Its commercial price in the United States generally has been more than $2.
Another challenge is a stigma associated with the female condom in some places because prostitutes are among those deemed to benefit most from using it. On the other hand, advocates of the female condom say it has invaluable safe-sex potential for married women whose husbands are unfaithful and shun male condoms.
Serra Sippel, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington, said FDA approval of the FC2 is a key step toward "putting the power of prevention in women's hands." But she bemoaned the product's limited over-the-counter availability.
"We'd love to see the profile raised, to have commercials about it and normalize it so people aren't embarrassed," she said.Mary Ann Leeper said the Female Health Co. is seeking a corporate partner to help market the FC2. She suggested that concern about HIV/AIDS may generate interest among women in communities with high infection rates.