PIP: As a team from the Association for Voluntary Surgical Contraception (AVSC) observed on a recent visit to Soviet Georgia, change has begun to take place in the reproductive health care system of the USSR, a country where so far multiple abortions have remained a fact of life. Official statistics say that the average Soviet woman undergoes 8 abortions in her lifetime. As the AVSC team found out, contraception rarely plays a role in controlling fertility. Not only does the population know little about contraception, contraceptive supplies are scarce. Among those who do know about contraception, including doctors, the IUD is the favored method. The IUD that they like, however, is not the Soviet-made one, but the Western-made Copper T, which is often found only in the black market. The Soviet-made IUD, they say, if os poor quality. Both women and doctors remain suspicious of oral contraceptives, and doctors strongly disapprove of the use of hormonal contraceptives. Condom sales have increased in Georgian pharmacies, possibly because of fears over AIDS. But again, the men prefer foreign brand condoms over domestically produced condoms. Although preferences over contraceptive methods vary, doctors do see contraception as the way to bring down the unhealthy level of abortions. So far, sterilization has not been used for contraceptive reasons. And among Georgian men, vasectomy seems out of the question. However, changes in the way reproductive health is administered appear to have begun. AS the USSR's first deputy minister of health told the AVSC team, the government is committed to increasing and meeting the demand for contraception, including sterilization. AVSC has been invited to help introduce voluntary contraceptive sterilization in the USSR.