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Gates Foundation looking for the ‘Next Generation’ of condoms

The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation needs your help to make protected sex more pleasurable.

The foundation is looking for the “Next Generation Condom,” one that not only prevents unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted disease, but would encourage people to “seek out the use of condoms.”

“Condom use, particularly in certain areas where HIV is most prevalent, is not very good,” said Stephen Becker, deputy director of the HIV Program at the Gates Foundation. “There are desires to not use condoms despite protections that improve from their use.”

While condoms have been around for hundreds of years, Becker said there continues to be a perception among men that they make sex less pleasurable.

“Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure?” The Gates Foundation wrote in a press release. “If so, would such a product lead to substantial benefits for global health, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs?”

Becker thinks so.

“The more appealing a condom is for a man to use, the greater likelihood of use there will be,” he said. “And we’re not talking about a particularly expensive technology here by any means. They are the least expensive HIV technology.”

The Gates Foundation invites those who have a condom design idea to apply for a $100,000 grant online.

They ask that applications meet the following criteria:

-Application of safe new materials that may preserve or enhance sensation.

-Development and testing of new condom shapes/designs that may provide an improved user experience.

-Application of knowledge from other fields (e.g. neurobiology, vascular biology) to new strategies for improving condom desirability.

Projects that demonstrate potential could receive additional funding.

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