Women's condoms need to be cheaper and come in as many varieties as men's condoms, an HIV support group will tell Parliament this week.

MPs will consider a petition by Jane Bruning, the head of advocacy group Positive Women, who wants the Government to subsidise the female condom, or femidom, in the same way male condoms are covered.

Only one brand of female condoms, FC2, is for sale in NZ.

Ms Bruning said FC2 was the only contraceptive choice for women which protected against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.


"The aim is to provide women with choices. Because it is something that a woman can insert herself and she can then take ownership of her own sexual health and well-being," Ms Bruning said.

Unlike male condoms, the FC2 was unsubsidised and cost $5 per condom. "That's really unattainable for most people."

Male condoms were free with a prescription or for people diagnosed with HIV. At full price, a 12-pack sold for between $15 to $17.

Parliament's health committee will be asked tomorrow to extend these subsidies to the FC2 and increase the range of female condoms available.

FC2 supplier Glyde Healthcare has asked Pharmac to subsidise the product.

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The cost of extending government subsidies to female condoms was not known, but Positive Women expected savings as a result of fewer health costs related to STIs.

The campaign to get an effective, affordable female condom in NZ has been a long one, say petition organisers.

Ms Bruning said an earlier, polyurethane prototype, FC1, was unpopular because it "made a crinkly sound like a plastic bag". The redesigned FC2 had to get approval from Medsafe because it was made of a synthetic latex previously unused in this country.

She said backing from the World Health Organisation meant female condoms were being developed faster.