For S$124,000, do you have what it takes to create the ‘next generation’ condom?
American billionaire Bill Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential figures is working to kick-start a revolution not in the technological world this time, but in the bedroom instead! According to an online report by the Straits Times, the 57-year old is offering a S$124,000 (US$100,000) cash prize to anyone who can develop the ‘next-generation condom.’ The announcement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has attracted significant media attention and shines the spotlight on an issue of interest.
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Sex, safety and STDs
Condoms are one of the most widely used and distributed products in the world and it is estimated that 15 billion condoms are produced annually in the world. Cheap, convenient and user-friendly, it is estimated that there are currently 750 million condom users in the world. Apart from preventing unwanted pregnancies, condoms have been instrumental in stopping the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Although condoms have been in use for at least four centuries, there hasn’t been too many improvements made to the product over the last 50 years. Meanwhile, condoms are believed to decrease male pleasure during intercourse and because of this, many men insist on having unprotected sex despite the risks associated with it.
This is particularly worrying as the risks of unprotected sex has become a lot more serious across the last five decades. This phenomenon is partly due to the worldwide AIDS crisis. In 2012, Singapore saw 385 new HIV cases within the first 10 months with 50% of the total number of HIV cases resulting from heterosexual relations while homosexual cases made up 43% of the total statistics.
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What the cash prize means
The announcement of the cash incentive by Bill Gates could lead to a renewed scientific interest in research into the area of condoms. Condoms have become so commonly associated with a less pleasurable sexual experience that many people have become accustomed to this idea. However, Bill Gates is set to change this prevailing mindset as he launches the search for the ‘next generation’ condom. According to the Grand Challenges in Global Health, the announcement states: ‘We are looking for a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use’.
If the search is successful, the implications of the invention would be enormous. If a condom is successfully is devised not only to preserve sexual pleasure but increase it, this could very well lead to a drastic spike in condom use. Increased condom use could potentially lead to a decrease in the number of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Should there actually be a breakthrough in this arena, a global change in sexual behaviour is sure to follow suit.
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While the idea of a ‘next generation condom’ seems exciting, until such a product is actually made available, it is best to adhere to the guidelines laid out by the Ministry of Health Promotion Board. As easy as ABCD, here are some precautionary steps to take:
- Abstinence – abstaining from sex till marriage is the best way to avoid unprotected sex.
- Being faithful – promiscuous behaviour is likely to increase your likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection.
- Correct and consistent use of condoms – improper use could result in the condom breaking, thus exposing the user to the risks of unprotected sex.
- Early detection – if you are sexually active, it is best to go for a medical checkup every six months.