Taking a lyrical cue from Beyoncé Knowles’s Grammy-winning hit, “Single Ladies,” a coalition of Chicago health organizations is encouraging female condom use by asking men and women to “put a ring on it!” through its Chicago Female Condom Campaign. The campaign launch was timed with the observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10.

“For many women and men, condom negotiation in the bedroom isn’t an option,” said AIDS Foundation of Chicago policy manager Jessica Terlikowski, who leads the campaign. “This campaign is working to ensure that Chicagoans know about this highly effective safer-sex tool and that service providers are equipped with the skills and knowledge to effectively promote it.”

Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is located, ranks first, second and third nationwide for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, respectively. The county reported about 1,500 new HIV cases in 2008.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-generation latex female condom in 1993. The second-generation version, approved in 2009, is made of a more affordable, hypoallergenic synthetic rubber. Female condoms are lubricated and shaped like an open-ended tube, with an inner ring that can be removed during anal sex.

“In a way, it’s unfortunate that it’s called the female condom since it is really a tool for the receptive partner, and is a great prevention option during anal sex for both women and men,” said Zoe Lehman of the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project. “Both women and men engage in anal sex, and the female condom is a great prevention tool to keep both partners safe and satisfied.”

The Chicago Female Condom Campaign is supported on Facebook, Twitter and its website, ringonit.org, which includes an instructional video.