New York Sun Examines New York City’s Internet-Based Condom Distribution Campaign
The New York Sun on Tuesday examined the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's condom distribution program, which supplies more than 1.5 million condoms monthly at no cost via a Web site as part of an initiative to curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (Birkner, New York Sun, 12/19). Through the program, condoms are available to clinics, private hospitals, youth and senior centers, commercial sex venues and other facilities via the health department's Web site, which is the main mode of distribution. The department previously distributed condoms only to STI clinics. The department provides Lifestyles brand condoms, which are sent to the recipient within 10 days of placing the order. There are more than 100,000 HIV-positive people in New York City, and health officials estimate that there are thousands more undiagnosed HIV cases (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/30). According to the Sun, the city pays four cents per condom, which usually cost $10 for a box of 12 at drugstores, and spends about $720,000 on condoms annually. The city also provides water-based lubricant. Individuals, who cannot request free condoms on the Web site, can obtain condoms from the city's 20 publicly funded health clinics. "The city is pushing to get as many condoms out on the street, in wallets and in pockets as it can," Sara Gillen, deputy director of prevention for Harlem United Community AIDS Center, said. In the past 18 months since the program started, the city has distributed 55% of the condoms to not-for-profit health care and social services organizations; 26% of the condoms to health department clinics; and 19% to private, for-profit businesses, the Sun reports. Although some people have expressed concern that the program is "ripe for abuse," city health officials have said there have not been any fraud complaints, according to the Sun (New York Sun, 12/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.