Billionaire Bill Gates wants people to have better, safer sex, according to reports that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is offering a $100,000 startup grant for whoever designs "the next generation condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure and promotes regular use."
According to the Grand Challenges in Global Health website, condoms are one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of HIV, but enticing men to use them consistently is a tremendous challenge.
The website says, "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, particularly given that the decisions about use must be made just prior to intercourse. 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, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs?"
The challenge also states that the project can earn an additional $1 million in funding, but the proposal must have a testable hypothesis, an "associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated," and show clear indisputable evidence of effectiveness.
According to a UNAIDS report, 34 million people worldwide are infected with AIDS, and in the United States the African-American community seems to be at higher risk. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN "Although African-Americans comprise 12% of the population, they account for 45% of all new HIV infections nationwide and 65% of all new infections among women."
The Gates Foundation said in the CNN report they hope "new concept designs with new materials can be prototyped and tested quickly. Large-scale human clinical trials are not required," it adds. "Manufacturing capacity, marketing, and distribution channels are already in place."