Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

New York unwraps official condom plan

Fri 26 Jan 2007 In: International News

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration is focused on reducing rates of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, and part of the strategy is the aggressive promotion of free condoms. Officials are banking on the idea that more people will use condoms if they're wrapped in jazzy packaging. One idea for the design of the official city condom is a subway theme, with maps and colors of the different lines emblazoned on the wrappers. The health department says a number of possibilities are under consideration. "Brands work, and people use branded items more than they use non branded items, whether it's a cola or a medicine even," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said in an interview. "Brands add value and they increase use." New York is already a big player in the condom market. The city hands out 1.5 million free condoms each month, or about 18 million a year. Hundreds of organizations get free condoms from the city and distribute them at various locations, including health clinics and advocacy groups, bars, restaurants, nail salons, nightclubs and even prisons. New York negotiated a deal with the maker of the Lifestyles brand for 4 cents per condom, putting the expense to the city at just $720,000 annually, according to health officials. Once the newly-designed condoms are available, city officials hope the distinctive wrapper will enable them to better understand the effectiveness of their distribution program. They plan to do that through the annual community health survey that polls 10,000 New Yorkers by telephone. "We ask, 'Did you use a condom the last time you had sex?' And once this is launched, the next time we ask that question, of those people who say yes, we'll say, 'What did the wrapper look like?"' Frieden said. "And if they describe our wrapper, then we'll know that they would have used our condom." Right now, it is difficult to know. The free condoms given out by the city are wrapped in the red packaging from the Lifestyles brand, a product of Ansell Healthcare Products LLC. The company declined to discuss its contract with the city and referred all questions to the health department. The number of condoms distributed by the city multiplied several times over after the health department launched its online ordering system in 2005. Individuals cannot order there, but any other type of organization or venue can request unlimited free condoms through the Web site. Gay Men's Health Crisis, an non-profit dedicated to fighting AIDS, orders half a million free condoms each year, spokeswoman Lynn Schulman said. It is one of about 800 groups that did so last year. The group offers the condoms in bowls scattered throughout their organization's offices, hands them out at the annual AIDS walk, and gives them to establishments like gay bars. More than 100,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV and AIDS. And city officials are troubled by one subcategory in particular -- the 1,000 or so people each year who find out they have AIDS, but never knew they even had HIV. AIDS remains the third-leading cause of death among New Yorkers under 65.       Ref: (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Friday, 26th January 2007 - 12:00pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us