Bill Gates offers $1.1million for a ‘next generation’ condom
Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire Bill Gates has offered an incredible $1.1million to any person(s) who can devise the ‘next generation’ of condoms which could help to banish some of the stigma attached to both purchasing and wearing one; ultimately leading to more safe sex and less risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There will be an initial $100,000 (£66,000) grant for whoever can create a better condom than the latex ones commonly used today, with a further million dollar funding to help develop the best creation. Gates, the world’s second richest man with a fortune of $67billion (£44billion), has offered the generous sum as part of his ‘The Grand Challenge’ intuitive from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – a Seattle-based revolutionary global charity founded by Bill Gates and his wife that aims to provide funds into research for better treatments for a wide range of deadly diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis, in addition to tackling the massive problem of hunger and poverty in developing nations. The foundation released a statement, speaking of their aims behind the quest for a new condom, saying: “Condoms have been in use for about 400 years yet they have undergone very little technological improvement in the past 50 years. Material science and our understanding of neurobiology has undergone revolutionary transformation in the last decade, yet that knowledge has not been applied to improve the product attributes of one of the most ubiquitous and potentially underutilised products on earth.” It added: “The one major drawback to more universal use of male condoms is the lack of perceived incentive for consistent use. The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable. Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure? If so, would such a product lead to substantial benefits for global health?” The foundation stated that they were in particularly seeking a design of condom that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use.” Current annual production of condoms stands at 15 billion, with an estimated 750 million users worldwide. However, there are still many millions of men who are reluctant to buy or use condoms which is perplexing especially when fantastic ranges such as those from Durex or Skins are inexpensive, do not require a prescription, easy to transport around, and offer a highly effective method of protection against unwanted pregnancies and common STIs such as chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhoea.