One Billion Condoms Tested

Condom TestingBuy a condom other than one made by Trojan, and there’s a good chance it was tested by Family Health International.
The Durham-based nonprofit group, founded in 1971 to improve family planning around the world, has tested more than 1 billion condoms. That includes all condoms handed out by the U.S. Agency for International Development to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and most condoms imported to the U.S. FHI does not test Trojans because they are made and packaged in the United States.
FHI operates in 78 countries. Last year, the organization spent $224 million, mostly on HIV/AIDS research, prevention and care, family planning education and contraception research.
Quality control of condoms is one of the tasks FHI performs. Test labs are spread around the globe.
Wake Tech student Ethan Jackson works at the one in Durham, where 24 lab technicians test batches of 315 at a time. Each batch represents a manufacturer’s brand.
The rigorous tests assess the labeling and packaging, durability, length, thickness and the amount of lubricant. Technicians also fill condoms with water to find and mark holes.
The technicians make sure all condoms are tested under the same conditions and results are logged in a consistent manner.
Test results are reported to the manufacturers.
When Jackson first learned about FHI’s quality control tests, he said his first response was, “Get outta here.” It’s a reaction a lot of people have when they find out what he does. Not everybody finds out, Jackson said.
“If you ask me what I do and I know you, I flat- out tell you ‘I test condoms,’ ” he said. “If I don’t know you, I’ll say ‘I test contraceptives.’ I don’t want to make people I just met uncomfortable.”
from The News & Observer

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