Can a Faster Condom Help Prevent HIV?

A speedy new condom could help prevent HIV's spread in a matter of seconds.

Can't wait to get it on? Meet Pronto, a condom that claims to go from package to shaft within three seconds. Pronto is the work of South African inventor Willem van Renburg, who sought to develop a barrier method that didn't "kill the mood" with all that awkward fumbling. Seeing that South Africa is home to the world's highest population of HIV-positive people, the device could also help prevent the virus' spread in a matter of seconds.

Men refusing to wear condoms is a major factor in the global spread of HIV. “My husband never wants to use a condom, so every time I sleep with him, I get sick,” one HIV-positive Malawi woman told documentarian Martha Dodge. Both men and women have filed a host of complaints over traditional rubbers, including their smell, fit, and feel. Some do experience anxiety when they begin unrolling a condom, and some sex partners express frustration when the process drags on and on. Reducing that process to a second could go a long way in convincing some couples to stay safe.

Here's how it works: Pronto's packaging doubles as an applicator. Users just need to hold the package level over the penis, crack it in half, slip it on, and discard the applicator in one quick motion. But perfecting the Pronto technique takes some practice. Incorrect application could be "uncomfortable and embarrassing" and—like with all condoms—could potentially compromise the condom's efficacy, so users can watch a video and play a hands-on game to learn how to apply the condom correctly every time. All that study can pay off, as developers claim experienced users can apply the condom in just one second. Now, they just need men to give it a whirl: Pronto officially launched in South Africa in February, and the company is looking for distributors to make the condom available worldwide.

Pronto isn't for everyone, and it doesn't have to be. The more varieties of barrier methods on the market, the more likely a couple is to find one that works well—or fast enough—for them.

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