Crazy Prophylactics: Q-Tip Referenced Them. 25 Years Later, They’re Here…

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It was recently announced that a new line of condoms will change color when exposed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). What makes the story particularly interesting is the fact that the concept for the condoms was developed by a group of teenaged boys. Named the S.T.EYE, the condoms are designed to alter their pigmentation to alert the wearer that they may have come in contact with infections like chlamydia and syphilis (a kind of sex-ed chameleon of sorts). Students at London’s Isaac Newton Academy Daanyaal Ali, Muaz Nawaz, and Chirag Shah were inspired by the alarming rate of infection in their native United Kingdom, but the worry of contracting an STI is universal. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, more than one million people contract one every day.

Colorful Condoms

Still in its early conceptual phase, the condoms are nowhere near being ready for retail, but already issues and concerns regarding their reliability have been raised. For starters, relying solely on a change in color to alert one’s self to his or her sexual health leaves ample room for a decline in the rate of getting tested regularly at a clinic or doctor’s office. The potential for contracting a harmful infection without realizing it is already high, and this product could certainly give people a false sense of security (“well, it didn’t change color so I guess I must be clean”). Additionally, the margin for error could prove to be wide. For argument’s sake, if the condom turns green when it’s supposed to turn red (no official word on which colors will be “assigned” to which diseases) and one begins to take medication for the wrong disease, a whole slew of side effects or harm to one’s health could arise. Granted, these condoms are not meant to take the place of a doctor or blood test, but convenience is king. If the efficacy of the condoms are optimized, however, the impact could be a substantial step in alerting sexually active people to harmful infections.

Would you use these products if they came to market?

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