Thursday, January 16, 2014

Measuring Up - How Washington Spends Your Hard-Earned Money

Sometimes, one has to question how governments decide to spend our tax dollars.  Here is an interesting example of an issue that is important enough that it merited the spending of nearly a quarter of a million dollars of Washington's seemingly infinite tax revenue.

Here's a complete quote from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health website describing Project Number 1R43HD078154-01 also known as "Behavioral and Manufacturing Science to Commercially Develop Fitted Condoms":

"A policy statement by the World Health Organization notes that, "the male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections." Unfortunately, despite decades of condom promotion efforts, condoms usage rates remain disappointingly low. Between one-third and one-half of men report poor condom fit, and these men are more likely to forego condom use. TheyFit LLC seeks to address this by manufacturing 'custom-fitted' condoms, with 95 different sizes available based on user-determined length and circumference measurements. Currently, only a narrow range of condom sizes are available in the United States due to regulatory guidelines governing manufacturing and testing procedures that require burst tests designed for a narrow range of condom sizes. We seek to conduct laboratory condom testing to increase the evidence base for adopting new draft international standards that establish a model of burst test standards allowing a broader range of condom sizes to be tested. Adoption of expanded testing standards is critical to enabling a wider range of condom sizes to be available in the United States. We also seek to improve upon traditional self-report mechanisms of penis measurement by validating the TheyFit measuring tool. This would address an important research question regarding validated measures and supply information on whether users have sufficient proficiency to accurately determine their custom condom size. To provide reference data for a future clinical trial, we will analyze data, previously collected from a national sample of men who have sex with men, to establish condom breakage rates for anal sex. This analysis will provide innovation by allowing further research to move condoms towards being regulated medical devices for anal sex. On both grants, TheyFit will work in collaboration with faculty in Emory University's Department of Epidemiology, who have extensive expertise conducting research regarding HIV/AIDS among sexual minority populations. The proposed research has potential to inform efforts aimed at reducing HIV-related disparities and reducing new HIV infections, meeting two priority areas identified in the Strategic Plan of the NIH Office of AIDS Research."

Now for the English translation.  Basically, the funded organization TheyFit LLC is seeking to address two age-old problems:

1.) Condoms that fit poorly.

2.) Men that don't know how to properly measure the length and diameter of their penis, an issue that most red-blooded males will vehemently deny.

TheyFit, a United Kingdom-based condom company that supplies a stunning 95 different sizes of condoms, is trying to figure out how to make condoms that men will actually use since between one-third and one-half of men report that condoms just don't fit right and rather than wearing "a pair of socks" that are either too large or too small, they give up on the idea entirely.  Notice, there is no mention of the fact that some men just don't like the feel of a condom period.  By creating a penile measuring "tool", TheyFit hopes to improve on men's innate tendency to convert 4 inches into 6 inches or more.  Here, from the TheyFit website is a screen capture showing their current FitKit "tool", complete with instructions for usage:

***Important Note***  Please do not use a printed copy of this screen capture to measure yourself. A printable, full-scale copy of the FitKit can be found on TheyFit's website located here.

By using the FitKit tool, men will be able to determine which of TheyFit's 95 different condoms will provide a "custom" fit.  Unfortunately for American men, TheFit condoms cannot be shipped to a United States shipping address, however, one can use a U.S. billing address to order from the company.

In addition to assisting men in measuring themselves, the study will also analyze the breakage rate of condoms in homosexual anal sex to achieve the goal of having condoms being a regulated medical device for anal sex with the ultimate goal of reducing HIV infections.

In case you wondered, this illuminating study will set American taxpayers back $224,000.  And the use of "hard-earned" in the title; well, that was just way too easy.

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