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After a worldwide search, PATH has found a commercial partner to manufacture the “PATH Woman’s Condom”—a new female condom developed by PATH in collaboration with couples in several developing countries.

PATH president and CEO Dr. Christopher J. Elias signed a licensing and collaboration agreement with the president of Shanghai Dahua Medical Apparatus Company (known as Dahua), Mr. Chen Hua.

The signing ceremony was held on July 31, 2008, at PATH’s Seattle headquarters. PATH staff, our supporters, and civic leaders in the Puget Sound region attended the signing and celebrated this important next step in helping women in the developing world get access to another form of protection from HIV and unintended pregnancy.

Woman-initiated protection

The most commonly used condoms worldwide are male condoms, which means women who want to use this method depend entirely on their partners’ cooperation. A female condom equalizes control by a small but significant amount.

Female condoms have been available since 1993. PATH began work in 1996 on a woman’s condom tailored to the needs of the women in the developing world, with support from the US Agency for International Development (through the CONRAD program) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among other donors. Input from women and their partners guided PATH’s designers at all stages of development.

We created and tested more than 50 prototypes in our Seattle product-development shop, eventually moving to field-testing with the cooperation of couples in Mexico, South Africa, and Thailand. The result is a female condom that is easy to insert and remove, is very stable during sex, and feels good for both partners.

Private-sector partnership

Finding a commercial partner is a critical step in making the condoms available and moving them into widespread use. Dahua specializes in high-quality, low-cost, disposable medical devices made from plastic. In addition, Dahua manufactured skin implants (similar to Norplant) for contraception some years ago.

As part of the agreement, PATH and Dahua will work together to keep manufacturing costs low and set a price that is affordable to public health programs in China. We are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership that will give women one more tool to protect themselves.

More information

Posted August 22, 2008.