What’s Lacking in Prophylactics?

Condom design, fit, and technology needs to be better to encourage compliance and prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

February 9, 2012

1 Min Read
What’s Lacking in Prophylactics?

Calling all designers, engineers, and meaterials experts. Stop what you are doing and put your collective brains to one of the a travesty of medical device development. The condom is woefully lacking and it needs your help.

CondomThat is the rallying cry I heard when I read an article from Paul R. Abramson and L.J. Williamson extolling the many vices of condom technology.

The authors don’t care about fancy new tricks, like Viagra in a condom. But they do care that so much money has gone into HIV prevention vaccines (with humdrum results)—when building a better condom could be so effective in actual prevention.

The problem is compliance. People just don’t use condoms every time they are supposed to. And the design of condoms really  hasn’t really changed in more than 200 years.


“Condoms are a high-volume, low-cost product, so the businesses that produce them, understandably, put money into distribution, not innovation. They might tinker with shapes, adding "pleasure ribs" or even minivibrators, but game-changing innovation takes a wad of cash that condom makers just don't have.”


The authors are calling for the Steve Jobs of condom technology: “Until we chase the condom with the same fervor — and budget — as we did the race to the moon, we're ripping off the next 3 million people who will be diagnosed with HIV this year.”

Warning, there is bad language in the article, and not a little bias against abstinence-only education. But it’s very much worth the read.

—Heather Thompson

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