Health/Fitness » HIV/AIDS

Fenway Boston and NIH Launch Anal Condom Study

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Oct 17, 2013

The Fenway Institute in Boston has teamed up with the National Institutes of Health to begin enrolling male couples in a new clinical trial studying condoms for anal sex protection. The new ORIGAMI Anal Condom (OAC) is the first condom of its kind, and researchers hope it will help increase safer sex. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also presenting funding for further research.

"Origami Condoms provides an excellent example of a private enterprise focused on new condom design to promote consistent use by emphasizing the sexual experience," wrote The Gates Foundation in a statement. "We know more today about sexual function than at any time in the past, and advances in relevant disciplines such as neuroscience, vascular biology, urology, reproductive biology, materials science and other fields can contribute to new and unconventional approaches."

The Food and Drug Administration has never approved a condom made specifically for anal intercourse. The NIH hopes this study will prove the efficacy of the company's unique silicone condom design, among which include the first folded, non-rolled male condom, an accordion design that can slip on instantly and create a reciprocating motion inside the lubricated condom that simulates the sensation of sex without a condom.

Also supporting innovative condom research is the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenge Explorations grants, a commitment of $100M to encourage scientists to expand the pipeline of ideas to fight our greatest health challenges. Since it was launched in 2008, more than 850 grants have been awarded to innovative, early-stage projects in 50 countries.

In a Sep. 5 article in the Impatient Optimists, Papa Salif Sow and Stephen Ward outlined this second call in this Grand Challenge Explorations initiative: to find solutions that address sensation.

"Loss of sensation, either real or perceived, is one of the main reasons men prefer not to wear condoms during intercourse," they wrote. "We're open to great new ideas that might include things like changing the fit of the condom, trying different thicknesses, textures, or amounts and types of lubrication to increase or decrease the amount of friction felt by either partner during or simulate skin-to-skin contact while still serving as contraception and preventing sexually transmitted infections."

They are also looking to address the uncertainties and difficulties around using condoms correctly, and are seeking new ideas for female condoms that work as well as existing condoms. The current ORIGAMI Female Condom being tested is the first anatomy-specific female-initiated condom designed to lay flat against the labia and be inconspicuous.

"The Next Generation Condom could be a solution that meets the needs of men who choose not to use condoms because they take too long to apply, or are difficult to put on in the proper direction, especially in the dark, or cause loss of erection due to having to stop and don a condom," write Sow and Ward.

The NIH is optimistic that scientists can develop a condom that would provide all the benefits of current versions, without the drawbacks. In launching this second competition, they are offering the winner of their $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations the opportunity for a subsequent Phase II award of $1M to complete their product development and quickly bring it to market.

"Even better, what if we could develop one that was preferred to no condom? The idea of a condom that men would prefer to no condom is a revolutionary idea," they wrote in Impatient Optimists.

For more information about participating in the Fenway study, contact Jake Tinsley at 617-927-6450 or email

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • , 2013-10-21 10:59:26

    The Anal Condom study is currently in clinical research. During recruitment for the study the related video demo was removed and subsequently design modifications were being made. The new demo video will be posted as soon as we have a new prototype. Thank you for the interest. The question about silicone lube is a good one. Most adult products stores will advise customer to NEVER use silicone lube on a silicone toy. It degrades (melts) the material. All silicone adult toys have a disclaimer on the package warning not to use silicone lube with a silicone device (dildo, etc.). Subscribe to the newsletter for updates and also the company’s Facebook page (link on the website). Thanks for the inquiries.

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