SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

France to reimburse condoms in fight against AIDS and STIs

The French government said Tuesday it would take the rare step of reimbursing prescription-bought condoms to combat the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

France to reimburse condoms in fight against AIDS and STIs
Photos: AFP

The measure, which covers French-made Eden condoms obtained on prescription from a doctor or midwife, was announced ahead of World AIDS Day on Saturday.

Produced by Majorelle laboratories and sold only in pharmacies, Eden condoms cost a fraction of leading brands such as Durex or Manix at 2.60 euros ($2.95) for a box of 12.

They are the first to be approved for reimbursement by France's national health authority, one of the few in Europe to do so.

In a statement the company hailed the announcement as “sending a strong signal that it [a condom] is not a sex toy but a real and indispensable prevention tool” in the fight against sexually transmitted infections.

In July, a health department study showed cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea — two common STIs — tripling in France between 2012 and 2016, with 15-24 year-olds particularly affected.

The study indicated the rise was due to people having sex with “an increasing number of partners coupled with the non-systematic use of condoms”.

Asked why its brand was selected, a spokeswoman for Majorelle, which was founded in 2012 with the stated aim of reducing inequality in access to health products, said: “We were the first to ask”.

Chlamydia cases rise

Agnes Buzyn, the health minister who is a trained doctor, sounded the alarm over the risk of HIV transmission among condom-averse young people.

Around 6,000 new cases of HIV infection were diagnosed in 2016 — down five percent since 2013 — taking the number of people living with the virus in France to over 172,000.

Buzyn warned that young people increasingly “use a condom the first time they have sex but not in subsequent instances.”

Majorelle cited a study showing that 75 percent of young people would use condoms more if the cost was covered by the state.

It said that the state would cover 60 percent of the cost of the condoms and hopes that top-up health insurance providers would cover the remainder.

The news was hailed by NGOs involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“Anything that facilitates access to prevention is good news,” said Florence Thune, head of the Sidaction association.

“There should be no financial obstacle, whatever the method,” she said.

“It's another string to our bow,” said Caroline Izambert, a campaigner at Aides HIV prevention group.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

SHOW COMMENTS