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The Next Generation Condom: Bill Gates Offers $100,000 To Anyone Who Can Invent It
March 26, 2013
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Condoms.jpg

Conan O'Brien once joked there are two words you don't want associated with a condom: "micro" and "soft".

Well now, that could change.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is offering $100,000 to anyone who can invent a "next generation condom".

It's all part of an effort to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and prevent unwanted pregnancies around the world.

In a statement on the foundation's Grand Challenges website, it says it's looking for a condom that will "significantly preserve or enhance pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use."

In other words, if sex with a condom feels good, people will use it more, which will help reduce the spread of disease.

"It may seem obvious, but the success and impact of any public health tool hinges on that tool being used consistently and correctly by those who need it," the website says.

The foundation's program officer Stephen Ward, told the New York Daily News, "We acknowledge that we have condoms today that are very effective. But they have a drawback, where they have diminished sexual pleasure for the user."

The foundation already invests heavily in HIV vaccine research, but it believes preventative measures are just as important.

the-next-generation-condom-bill-gates-offering-100,000-to-anyone-who-can-invent-it-feature2.jpgIt says women are particularly at risk, especially "those in high risk groups such as commercial sex workers [who], often face difficulties negotiating condom use."

"The fact that the term 'condom negotiation' even exists... speaks to the central shortcoming of our current generation of condoms."

It goes on to say "The undeniable, and unsurprising, truth is that most men prefer sex without a condom, while the risks related to HIV infection and complications of unplanned pregnancy are disproportionately borne by their partners."

Ward says, "the ultimate goal is a product that people will choose to use, not use it because they have to. It's a high bar."

A panel of five will judge the proposals and the foundation says several ideas could be awarded the prize.

So, there you go - if you have any ideas you can apply here.

Or take a look at this book on the condom's long and colourful history.

According to the book, Ever Since Adam and Eve: The Evolution of Human Sexuality, the first clinical study proving condoms can protect against disease was done by the Italian doctor Gabriel Falloppio in 1564.

Falloppio was the first to describe a condom and studied its protective influence on syphilis. He recorded the results in his book, De Morbo Gallico (The French Disease).

"I tried the experiment on eleven hundred men, and I call immortal God to witness that not one of them was infected."

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