Bill and Melinda Gates have awarded The University of Wollongong $100,000 in funding to develop skin-like condoms.

Researchers at the university are working on a “next generation” substitute for latex condoms using a hydrogel-based material designed to “act, feel and look” more like real skin.

Hydrogels are made of water and held together by a network of polymers. It is softer than latex, can be stretched and is self-lubricated. The goal is to develop a strong, safe and more pleasurable condom that will make men “want to wear one” rather than “having” to use it,.

“The funding will help us find the right material appropriate for the condom”, said biomedical engineer research fellow Robert Gorkin, who is leading the project.

Condoms are used by an estimated 750 million people worldwide. Last year, the Microsoft founder told an audience that current designs are not good enough.

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation have awarded more than $100,000 to 11 groups to develop a new generation condom that significantly preserves and enhances pleasure in an effort to stop the spread of HIV and unplanned pregnancies.

Recently, a team of researchers at the University of Manchester also received a grant from the Gates Foundation to develop a new prototype by mixing grapheme with an elastic polymer similar to latex.

More than 33 million people around the world are currently living with HIV, and more than 30 million people have died from HIV-related complications since its earliest cases were detected in the 1980’s.

In regards to unwanted pregnancies and abortion – the exact number of abortions performed in Australia each year isn’t known (only South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory collect abortion statistics and only South Australia releases the data), but an estimate published in 2005 put the number of abortions performed in Australia each year at 70,000 to 80,000

Information on abortion