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back to article Bill Gates offers big bucks for better condoms

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has rolled out a new project: a quest to find better condoms, with up to $1.1m for those who can come up with ideas that are a snug fit for some pressing problems. The quest for a better condom has become one of the Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health, a in order to address the …

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Meh

And Yet

The Catholic Church and the Muslim brethren from the other side say condoms are evil and that abstinence is the way forward.

Bill will have a hard job convincing the new Pope that a free issue of condoms is the answer. The more enlightened know this but as the majority of the worlds poorest populations are Governed by these beliefs he will have a very hard uphill struggle.

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JDX
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Re: And Yet

Are you sure Islam says it's wrong?

And Catholicism doesn't preach abstinence, it preaches procreation!

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FAIL

Re: And Yet

Lars, a little education goes a long way and by education, i.e. don't class reading the Daily Heil or Fox "if you are not white and own a gun you are a commie terrorist" New as education.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/islamethics/contraception.shtml

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Facepalm

Re: And Yet

Sleeping with Bill could cause abstinence ... or female impotence ...

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Re: And Yet

Islam does not ban the use of contraceptives. There are hadiths (sources) that indicate it's fine to use them.

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Re: Joke alert

Like any Reg reader has to worry about the problem of contraceptives!

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Re: And Yet

If you can get the Pope to read and publically interpret a certain passage in context then the problem of Catholic objections to birth control will go away. Unfortunately after several hundred years of taking said passage out of context to say that birth control is evil you'd have a very difficult time convincing the current Pope to say that dozens of his predecessors were wrong.

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Re: And Yet @JDX

Catholicism preaches that any sexual intercourse that isn't for procreation is evil, a sin, and anything enabling non-procreative sex is evil as well.

Humanae Vitae is the main offender for this.

A lot of the backwardness of Latin American countries is directly tied to Catholicism and its backward views, including that on birth control and other interesting topics.

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Re: Joke alert

"Like any Reg reader has to worry about the problem of contraceptives!"

Some of us have a greater hurtle.

Being married for over 31 years.

AND getting a bit older...

Years ago, we used to do it all night long.

Now, we spend all night trying to figure out, whatinhell "IT" was...

Yes, my eyes are brown for a good reason. :P:p:P:p

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Re: And Yet @JDX

You are wrong. Catholicism allows contraception, but only natural (Ogino-Knaus). Artificial is bad because it degrades the naturalness of the act. It is not true that it "preaches that any sexual intercourse that isn't for procreation is evil, a sin," for it allows and even recommends sex between partners that are sterile because of condition, pregnancy or age. It preaches only against artificial separation of sex from its natural function, which is an integral part of it. For Catholics sex is not sinful, but sacred; their strict rules are not about its condemnation, but about its protection from profanation.

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Headmaster

Imagine a condom the size of Steve Ballmer.That way, we could prevent catching the Microsoft disease.

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It's called the 'Cameron' but Steve Bell has rights to it.

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Wait a minute ... this Microsoft disease - does it affect all senior management in ways too filthy for mere mortals to comprehend? I mean, here we are reading about how Bill Gates is into condoms now, whereas the last we heard he was into toilets. Is Windows 8 the logical product of this unhealthy obsession?

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"Imagine a condom the size of Steve Ballmer.That way, we could prevent catching the Microsoft disease."

Not happening, something that large would be too porous. It'd leak through.

And down Bill's leg...

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When I was but a lad...

I used to find condoms useful, for the very "drawback" mentionned by Mr Gates.

Now I find them to be a fire hazard.

They might become a MrFreeze's wrap soon.

It's hard to be a man -and to stay so.

;-)

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Joke

Hmmm..

I know graphene is flexible but I don't believe it's that flexible. Even if you could get it into that configuration it might chafe a bit. It is an excellent conductor of heat which could be helpful. Supposedly a sheet of graphene of moderate thickness can take the weight of a elephant balanced on a pencil so being hung like one shouldn't pose any issues.

The DVD bake method can even double as a handy applicator.

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Paris Hilton

Tech company condoms

iSheath - it's shiny, the packet has rounded corners, very well made, but too expensive for the third world.

Linux French Letters - it's free and open so you can never be sure who has used it before hand!

Windows For Love Makers 3.11 - Industry standard but very unreliable - best to use it with a third party spermicide.

Raspberry Pi-dom - Very affordable and extremely flexible but in order to cut costs there's no foil wrapper!

Java Johnnies - These have been recalled due to their poor viral resilience!

Adobe Ultra Sensitive - Thin and unreliable - used to be popular about a decade ago but rapidly declining in usage.

El Reg Rubber Ticklers - Strong premium quality latex with strategically placed pleasure notches. 8 out of 10 sex workers recommend them! or for the more demanding customer...

El Reg Paris Extra Safe - An Industrial grade prophylactic that's been clinically proven to provide the highest level of protection for the more adventurous consumer with a riskier lifestyle. You can rely on the El Reg Paris range of condoms for piece of mind no matter how debauched things get!

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Re: Tech company condoms

You Sir, win the Internet. Too bad they don't do Cash n' Carrion anymore 'round these parts. I'm sure the El Reg condoms would fly off the shelves.

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Happy

Re: Tech company condoms

Oh yes, I can just imagine they would! The branding would look quite cool too I reckon with the vulture logo on the packet and a striking red design that's bound to stand out on any chemist's shelves!

I'm pleased to hear I win the internet too, I did start wondering that obviously I have too much time on my hands to have written that, it's good to know I'm making a difference! lol

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tech company condoms

I would think the Paris Extra Safe would be a cross of a regular condom and a dental dam. This way not only is your wang (IT term) protected but so is the whole pubic area.

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Re: Tech company condoms

At first I didn't know why I bothered to click on this article.

Now I do.

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Re: Tech company condoms

"El Reg Paris Extra Safe"

A three meter thick layer of protection. Even gamma radiation can't penetrate it!

Or pleasure.

Or much of anything else.

Can one say, oh...

Isolated system?

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also make an effective family planning tool

Unless someone considers one night stands family planning, the condoms are very far from effective w/ their fail rate:

With proper knowledge and application technique—and use at every act of intercourse—women whose partners use male condoms experience a 2% per-year pregnancy rate with perfect use and a 15% per-year pregnancy rate with typical use

I understand Bill Gates may not take security seriously but that's beyond laughable - 2% w/ perfect usage and 15% w/ typical :). Here, pals we have 15% fail rate as "effective"

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They're very effective compared to not using them. Also, your numbers suggest that investing in development of improved condoms is probably a good idea.

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FAIL

@stanimir - bollocks

Do you mind to share where that quote came from? Because to me it sounds like bollocks promoted by conservative christan abstinence-only family planning propaganda. AFAIK condoms are over 99% effective in real clinical trials.

15% fail rate with 'typical' usage implies more than 1 pregnancy for every 7 encounters, 2% fail rate implies 1 in 50. I'm pretty sure I don't have THAT many kids.

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Re: @stanimir - bollocks

Ohh, I seriously thought I had provided the source (I do not quote w/o sources). Firstly I looked up wikipedia which has adopted it from http://www.fpq.com.au/pdf/Contraception_Efficacy.pdf

Looks pretty fine source and the 98.x % I have seen written on the leaflet w/ the condoms.

The main problem w/ condoms is the friction and then then not-proper placement or size. Wrong sizes can result into a burst/tear and men are often unlikely to pull out to check if the condom is still whole.

Church propaganda would be the last thing I'd do as the Church is significantly unrepresented where I live and has close to zero influence.

Having yourself as anecdotal evidence doesn't work either. The reported rates are from females using the method.

Also 2% fail rate based on attempts would be 0.98^50 ~ .36 chance to get pregnant after 50 attempts w/ 2% chance - I mean your math is incorrect.

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I am suggesting that citing current condoms as efficient birth-control is overstatement.

For instance: Fertility "Awareness based methods e.g. standard days method, symptothermal method." are reported as 75-99% (compared to the 85% of the condom). So no exactly true "more effective than not using them".

I cannot support more condoms for STD/I prevention, yet I do not see them as effective birth-control method.

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Re: @stanimir

Thanks for the link and the maths correction... I'll have to give myself a downvote :)

> 30% chance of pregnancy after 50 'perfect uses' still seems a bit on the high side to me but I guess they know what they're talking about - the site seems kosher.

"The main problem w/ condoms is the friction and then then not-proper placement or size. Wrong sizes can result into a burst/tear and men are often unlikely to pull out to check if the condom is still whole."

Yes that's right, having a combination of strength + sensistivity is th 'holy grail' that I guess Mr Gates is looking for. Of course compared to all the other contraceptive methods, condoms have 1 more 'killer' functionality, which is prophylactic, which none of the other methods provide, so still required.

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Anonymous Coward

I think you've missed the point - Bill is trying to get a more effective condom developed. That means more user friendly in terms of those whining males who refuse to wear them "because it doesn't feel the same" despite the risk of transmission of fatal diseases and less prone to failure.

I realise that people here love to demonise Bill, but really your attempt is piss poor. A recent study found that ~60% of girls in the upper years of South African schools were HIV+, comparing to ~4% of boys (IIRC). If the men that are having sex with these girls could be persuaded to wear condoms those girls would have a life to look forward to. What Bill is doing is a very good thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @stanimir

30% chance of pregnancy after 50 'perfect uses'

That would be better phrased as a 30% chance that you might get pregnant after 50 "perfect uses". Not that you will, as it appears to say, also without protection, those trying to get pregnant will find it takes 50odd tries, sometimes more.

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Re:30% chance of pregnancy after 50 'perfect uses'

I didn't discuss getting pregnant in general as that involves ovulation, the swimmers actually being able to make it to the final destination and so on.

It was only regarding Math and probabilities. But yeah, probably unclear.

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Re: Re:30% chance of pregnancy after 50 'perfect uses'

And you're still getting your Maths wrong... Each and every time you use a condom the chance of failure due to [list of circumstances] is simply 2%. It's a die-toss, not compound chance.

Even so, the main reason to use condoms, especially when you sleep around a bit ( or if you're lucky, a lot) , is not contraception, but the prevention of attracting/transmitting an STD. There's a reason Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are on the rise again.... And the former can be carried by males, the latter by females without any serious symptoms, if at all in the early stages, even when they are infectuous right from the start..

But hey...the things are "inconvenient".

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Standard days method

My ex shared a house with a girl who used standard days method, (didn't want condoms or using the pill, etc)

It was either 3 or 4 abortions she had by the end of uni. (sorry cant remember exactly long time ago and lack of sympathy from me about the trauma of their abortions), anyway that as a mehod for birth control compared to condoms is a fail.

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WTF?

Re: Re:30% chance of pregnancy after 50 'perfect uses'

I seem to recall reading that the effectiveness stats were actually based on couples using them correctly for a year rather than the failure rate per shag. So a 2% failure rate would suggest 2 unwanted pregnancies in a year of correct usage by 100 couples. Still not perfect but far better odds.

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Boffin

Re: Standard days method

"The scientific term for women who solely rely on their period for contraception is "mother". "

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @stanimir - bollocks

"and a 15% PER-YEAR pregnancy rate with typical use"

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A Thought

am I allowed to mention Microsoft, condoms and (in)security holes in the same phrase?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A Thought

"am I allowed to mention Microsoft, condoms and (in)security holes in the same phrase?"

Just so long that I can point out that Linux distributions have a lot more (in)security holes than any Microsoft product....

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Anonymous Coward

Just some bigger ones that don't break would be a good thing.

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Spray-on condoms! *

* idea courtesy of Ben Elton

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Just give us a male pill already

More and more the advice is to use two forms of contraception. Condom + Male pill sounds like a combo I would be happy with so where is it?

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JDX
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Re: Just give us a male pill already

Then men will either use the pill or lie about being on the pill rather than use a condom, and continue to spread diseases.

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Re: Just give us a male pill already

The male pill has been in the pipeline since forever. Even if it was only, say, 90% effective, combine it with the female pill, and you've got a damn near perfect contraception.

Unfortunately, the male pill wont really solve the major problems better condoms help with, STD transmission in Africa, and it wont make it out into the developing world due to patents and prices.

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Re: Just give us a male pill already

Was reading about this last year, some guy in India invented a way to do a 'reversible vasectomy' basically inserting some sort of gel to block the tubes*. No health company wanted to touch it because it would destroy their research efforts for male pill + their nice little cash cows for the female pill. I think he's been getting some grant from Indian gov to develop the idea.

But even so, that (and a 'male pill') will only 'solve' the contraception problem, not the prophylactic one, so, great for committed partners who want to experience more pleasure and less inconvenience... but still I would think that a huge proportion of human sexual activity is carried out with a casual partner, and it would take crazy reckless or completely ignorant** to trust a random guy/girl at their word that they're 'clean'. So better condoms is a great initiative from Mr. Gates

*oversimplification warning!

**in the true sense of the word of 'not knowing', this does NOT mean stupid

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Re: Just give us a male pill already

I think of all the guys I've know (in both the biblical and platonic sense!) there's about 3 I would trust with sole control of contraception - and one of them I'm not 100% sure about! This is simply down to the fact that the potential downside of contraceptive failure is nowhere near as life changing for a man as it is for a woman, and therefore not as high a priority for them.

I'm afraid I'd have to know a guy really well to trust them if they told me they'd taken their pill every day on time with no misses!

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Re: Just give us a male pill already

Which is part of the reason why they recommend multiple forms of contraception. Let both parties take responsibility at the same time.

There are 0 women I would trust with sole control of contraception. It's too big a deal for one party to take it over.

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Anonymous Coward

Too big a deal for one party

Truer words have rarely been spoken:

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/sea/274495936.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just give us a male pill already

Back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I served in the Army with a bloke who CLAIMED to have what amounted to an on-off switch in his plumbing. According to him, his doctor had inserted very small, gold-plated, valves in his vas deferens and he could turn them off until he was ready to start popping out rug rats... Of course, he had to visit his doctor to make the change. No one in the company believed him, and he had no way to prove it... at least not without an x-ray.

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Vic
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Re: Just give us a male pill already

> his doctor had inserted very small, gold-plated, valves in his vas deferens

Dubbed the "Phaser" by its inventor, the "Golden Tap" (IIRC) by the Americans, and the "Stopcock" by the brits.

Sank without trace, it appears...

Vic.

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