Washington To Phase Out City-Brand Condoms

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Condom Distribution

Washington, D.C., will phase out its city-brand condoms and use brandnames in its condom distribution program that aims to reduce the spreadof HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, officials saidThursday during a meeting at the city's HIV/AIDS Administration, the Washington Post reports. The meeting -- which was attended by Gregg Pane, director of the city's Department of Health,and representatives from organizations working to fight HIV/AIDS in thedistrict -- "ended with agreement" that the DC-brand condoms have "togo if the city is to successfully" promote condom use as an HIVprevention method, according to the Post (Levine, Washington Post, 9/14).

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Districthealth officials in February distributed 250,000 condoms as part of thehealth department's STI prevention campaign. The first batch of condomswent to several not-for-profit organizations and community healthproviders. The health department said it aimed to distribute onemillion condoms by the end of 2007. The condoms' purple and yellowpackage is printed in English and Spanish and carries the slogan,"We've got you covered. Coming together to stop HIV in D.C."

Concernsabout the condoms arose almost immediately after the program began.Demand at two distribution sites established by not-for-profitorganizations dropped by more than 80% shortly after the condoms wereintroduced. More than 2,000 packets were distributed weekly inmid-March, but by late May, about 400 were dispensed weekly. Volunteerssaid people complained about condom packets "ripping in purses orbursting open in pockets," and some recipients said they lackedconfidence that the condoms would provide protection. In addition, theexpiration dates on some of the condoms were illegible. A coalition ofnot-for-profits returned about 100,000 condoms to the district, about15% of what the city said has been distributed to groups. City healthofficials last week said that the condoms have met federal and industrystandards for packaging and manufacturing.

Officials earlier this week announced that about 350,000 Trojanbrand condoms are being donated to the city in an effort to maintainthe program. According to a spokesperson for Mayor Adrian Fenty, theshipment from Church and Dwight Co., Inc.-- the New Jersey-based company that manufactures the condoms -- isexpected to arrive by the end of the month. City officials anticipatethat the Trojan condoms will supplement and not replace the hundreds ofthousands of condoms distributed at no-cost by the health department (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/13). According to the Post,city health officials will not recall any of the condoms that alreadywere distributed, but they hope to purchase quickly otherwell-recognized brands to supply a variety of condoms to the campaign.Officials also said that they would welcome further condom donations,according to the Post.

"We have to make sure wecontinue this program," A. Toni Young, co-chair of the district's HIVPrevention Community Planning Group, said, adding, "There needs to be asystematic approach to this," with more planning, education andevaluation. According to Young, the district needs to distributecondoms in a "different way." She added that it is "not just enough togive four cases" of condoms to city residents. According to KennethPettigrew, program director at Us Helping Us,the meeting was "one of those times where people said, 'Bottom line,how are we getting our clients condoms and how are we going to makesure they're confident in the condoms we provide?'" (Washington Post, 9/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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