South Africa is a multi-faceted, sophisticated country, characterized by diverse economic markets, populations, and health needs. Young people in South Africa are at high risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs/HIV. Male adolescents report high levels of sexual activity; having concurrent sex partners is common; and about 30% of young women aged 15 to 19 years become pregnant. These realities, combined with the country’s relatively high maternal mortality and HIV infection rates, make it critical for women to have access to prevention tools that meet their needs.
Since 1998, the government has sought to help meet those needs by providing female condoms for dual protection through its public family planning programs. As a result, today South Africa lays claim to one of the most robust female condom programs in the world, with government procurement of female condoms increasing over the past several years and plans to expand the program even further. In 2008−2009, for example, South Africa distributed 3 to 4 million female condoms. The 2012−2016 National Strategic Plan for HIV/STIs/ TB has set female condom procurement targets at a record high of 25 million units for 2016−2017. Government partners and civil society have been largely responsible for shaping female condom programs in South Africa; in fact, 98% of the product is distributed through female condom public-sector programs.