Washington Community Groups Return 70,000 Condoms Given Away In City-Wide Program

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Community groups in Washington, D.C., last week returned up to 70,000of the condoms given away earlier this year as part of a city programthat aims to reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmittedinfections, the AP/Google.comreports. According to the AP/Google.com, about 100,000 condoms werereturned by the groups in September due to complaints that the paperpacking could make the condoms ineffective (AP/Google.com, 9/30). Thecity's HIV/AIDS Administration has an additional 350,000 of the program's city-brand condoms that were never distributed (Levine, Washington Post, 9/29).


District health officials in February distributed 250,000 condoms as part of the Department of Health'sSTI prevention campaign. The first batch of condoms went to severalnot-for-profit organizations and community health providers. The HealthDepartment said it aimed to distribute one million condoms by the endof 2007. The condoms' purple and yellow package is printed in Englishand Spanish and carries the slogan, "We've got you covered. Comingtogether to stop HIV in D.C."

Concerns about the condoms arosealmost immediately after the program began. Demand at two distributionsites established by not-for-profit organizations dropped by more than80% shortly after the condoms were introduced. More than 2,000 packetswere distributed weekly in mid-March, but by late May, about 400 weredispensed weekly. Volunteers said people complained about condompackets "ripping in purses or bursting open in pockets," and somerecipients said they lacked confidence that the condoms would provideprotection. In addition, the expiration dates on some of the condomswere illegible. A coalition of not-for-profits returned about 100,000condoms to the district, about 15% of what the city said has beendistributed to groups. City health officials last month said that thecondoms have met federal and industry standards for packaging andmanufacturing.

Officials last month announced that they willphase out its city-brand condoms and use brand names in its condomdistribution program. About 350,000 Trojan brand condoms are being donated to the city from Church and Dwight Co. Inc. -- the New Jersey-based company that manufactures the condoms -- in an effort to maintain the program, according to officials (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report,9/14). A spokesperson for Mayor Adrian Fenty on Saturday said that thecity Health Department recently has received 125,000 new brand-namecondoms. Shipments totaling 400,000 more condoms are expected in thenext two weeks and deliveries should begin within days, thespokesperson said (Washington Post, 9/29).

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