Wednesday, February 12, 2014

National Condom Month: Let's Make Condoms Work For Us


By Ben Hammett, Communication Specialist


February is National Condom Month in the U.S. Like one of our Linkage to Care coordinators, Ceasar Montoya, explained regarding National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, as public health professionals it is not enough to only be aware of these national days or months. We must use them as opportunities to advocate each others’ efforts and to find ways to make those efforts more effective. Over the coming months our STI/HIV Prevention Program will find ways to improve our condom distribution program.

Why? 


Easy: condoms are ridiculously effective. With proper and consistent use, the CDC says, condoms can be 98 percent effective in stopping unintended pregnancy. The numbers regarding the effectiveness of condoms against sexually transmitted diseases are more elusive because of the many ways STDs can be transmitted. But lab studies by the CDC “have demonstrated that latex condoms provide an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of STD pathogens.” In non-government language that means putting a latex barrier between you and an STD is a good idea (We’ve looked into doing that for people ourselves, but we determined that would be inappropriate and terribly awkward).

Unfortunately, condom use is not universal, and public health’s use of condoms in STI/HIV prevention could be better, as recently pointed out by the National Coalition of STD Directors. The difficulties in distributing condoms and getting people to use them are very complicated. But, here at the CDPHE, we are committed to making sure condoms get into the pockets of those that need them most. As Lynn Barclay, President and CEO of the American Sexual Health Association, said in her article on the Huffington Post’s Blog, “condoms may be the most misunderstood and under-appreciated proven method of birth control and STI prevention … the bottom line is: condoms work, and we should be encouraging their use.”

How?


We will be finding ways to make our current distribution more efficient. Those condoms that we are currently distributing are incredibly important, and we would like to understand how important they are, and how we can make them even more high-impact. We are coming up with ways to find out:

  • Are they reaching the people that need them most?
  • Are those people happy with the condoms we are distributing and how to get them?
  • Are the locations we distribute to easy to find?
  • Are there locations that we should be distributing condoms to but aren't?
  • How can we draw more attention to the condoms we distribute?

As we come up with ideas and take action to make our condom distribution even more successful, we will keep you updated here. So please, check back.

Thank you for reading!


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