I think it’s time we consider color changing condoms.
Now, this isn’t an ad for Hot Topic nor am I endorsing clown sex, it’s just that it might be the closest thing we have today to combat the STD epidemic we’re currently facing.
Back in 2015 three British teens—two 14-year-olds and one 13-year-old—proposed a revolutionary idea for a new type of condom that could expose sexually transmitted diseases amongst intimate partners. The Washington Post explained:
There would be antibodies on the condom that would interact with the antigens of STDs, causing the condom to change colors depending on the disease…For instance, if the condom were exposed to chlamydia, it might glow green — or yellow for herpes, purple for human papilloma virus and blue for syphilis.
The concept is four years old but it’s an invention, due to the latest STD revelations, that we should be adopting now.
Last week the World Health Organization released a study revealing that more than 1 million people worldwide are infected daily by sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis.
Now, STDs aren’t new. I’m sure everyone has attended a school and have had a class that shed some light on sex education and the heightened risk of catching such diseases without protection, but new revelations suggest we refresh our memories.
“We’re seeing a concerning lack of progress in stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections worldwide,” said Dr. Peter Salama, Executive Director for Universal Health Coverage and the Life-Course at WHO.
“This is a wake-up call for a concerted effort to ensure everyone, everywhere can access the services they need to prevent and treat these debilitating diseases.”
While everyone would agree that condoms are unfavorable, this relatively new invention should be flying off the shelves. These color-changing contraceptives effectively take out the awkward vetting process that comes with being intimate with a new partner, and, most importantly, it works.
The proposal won the trio the top prize in the U.K.’s TeenTech Awards, and they have already reportedly been approached by condom companies. Daanyaal Ali, 14, Muaz Nawaz, 13, and Chirag Shah, 14, cleverly call their concept the S.T. EYE and, albeit years ago, had quite the foresight to what is now an inescapable reality.
The WHO study found more than 376 million new cases of the four infections in 2016 — the most available study to date. By infection, there were 127 million new cases of chlamydia, 87 million of gonorrhea, 6.3 million of syphilis and 156 million of trichomoniasis.
I get it, no one wants to be in the zone only to pull out a goofy-looking condom to ruin it, but when an estimated 1 in 25 carries at least one of the infections, goofy is quite okay.
Since winning the tech award in 2015 the color-coded condoms have yet to pass clinical trials or have been approved for sale in retail stores.
In addition, many critics that say, among they being unethical, it’s just hard to pull off in general, as Dr. Maureen Baldwin, an assistant professor of OB/GYN at Oregon Health & Science University, tells Forbes in a 2015 interview.
“We are nowhere near the technology to put something like this on a condom and have the condom still work for birth control, but I applaud these adolescents for thinking outside the box and for promoting testing for STIs,” Baldwin said.
“I think we should consider novel ideas like these seriously and try to work toward them.”
Whether the condoms come out or not, there needs to be a renewed sense of awareness when it comes to being intimate with a partner. Until then, we all should be more vocal about using strapping up and asking questions.