The cost of ensuring that women and their partners enjoy the benefits of female condoms greatly exceeds current commitments, but the price of inaction, paid in lost or debilitated lives, is many times more costly.
In 2006, only one female condom was available for every 100 women worldwide. This disturbing fact won't surprise anyone who's ever tried to locate female condoms. My first attempt to purchase them resulted in a confused pharmacy technician showing me various spermicidal gels, vaginal sponges and a male condom marketed for women. Before traipsing to pharmacies across DC, I decided to call around. Of the 22 locations I called, 12 of which were pharmacies, only five carried female condoms: two Planned Parenthoods, two student health centers, and an HIV/AIDS clinic. None of these locations were open after business hours and the closest provider was a 20-minute metro ride from my office.
The fact that I had to traverse the city to find a female condom points to greater problems than those presented for sexual spontaneity. This experience starkly highlights a failure to market and distribute one of the most effective prevention methods, and the only available female-controlled method, against the sexual transmission of HIV.