Distributing Female Condoms to Prevent HIV and STIs in Chile

11 August 2017

Last week, Chile's Ministry of Health (Minsal) launched a new campaign to prevent STIs, especially HIV, after results from a 66% increase in the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among the young people, going from 2,900 cases confirmed in 2010 to 4,900 in 2016.

The national Always Protect HIV campaign began to spread after two years of silence. It promotes "condom use, HIV testing, access to care, antiretroviral treatment, adherence and prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)." Although, in practice, only the male condom is free, leaving aside the version for women.

The government guarantees the prevention of HIV and STIs through the male population, always depending on whether the man uses the condom and not allowing women to be autonomous and protect themselves. While 17 million condoms are distributed in clinics, women do not have many prevention tools in terms of protection barriers such as condoms, which prevents them from making decisions about their own bodies and protecting themselves. 

Why is this necessary? Because not all women have heterosexual relationships and also because there are harmful practices where a condoms are removed without a partner's consent..

This is why the President of the Health Commission, Karol Cariola, along with a group of parliamentarians and sexual diversity organizations, introduced a bill that proposes the incorporation, acquisition and distribution of female condoms as part of the policy Ministry of Health.This way, the project adds to the existing national plans the delivery of female condoms and all products that prevent HIV and STIs in the female population and incorporate gender equality as a guiding principle, based on equal rights and non-discrimination, as well as regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The general coordinator of 'Breaking the Silence,' Erika Montecinos, greatly appreciated that female condoms have been included in this bill, since they are non-existent in the market and required for women's sexual health and self-care. "These methods are part of the sexual rights of all women, including women who have sex with women, as we are not exempt from self-care.This bill can pressure institutions to effectively distribute these elements as necessary for the sexual health of all women, " she said.

The female condom appeared in 1992 in England and the United States and immediately spread its use by Europe and the rest of the world but is still unknown in Chile, even though its effectiveness is proven internationally.

Read the full article in Spanish here.