(Washington, DC) – The DC Department of Health (DOH) today assured District residents of the quality of DC condoms distributed as part of its “One Million Ways to Stop HIV” condom program.
The condoms the DOH received from the manufacturer were safe and met US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for packaging and manufacturing of latex condoms.
To date, 650,000 condoms have been distributed via 50 community organizations across the District, including DOH clinics, health care and community groups, street outreach projects, youth serving organizations, and at non-traditional locations, including dance clubs, bars, barber and beauty salons, and Laundromats.
“The Department of Health considers condoms ‘distributed’ once they have been provided to our partners,” said Gregg A. Pane, MD., director, DC Department of Health. “And to ensure effectiveness, it is critical that they are properly stored and distributed in a timely fashion.”
In February, the District of Columbia announced the distribution of one million of its own customized condoms. The District was one of the first cities in the country to introduce a condom with a targeted public health message. In its work order, DOH specified that FDA and ASTM standards must be met for the condoms.
“DC condoms are safe and reliable and meet all standards for quality,” said Department of Health Director Gregg A. Pane, MD. “If you are going to be sexually active, condoms should be used always for the health and well-being of you and your partner. DC condoms meet the test to keep you safe.”
As part of the initiative, DOH is currently conducting an evaluation on the effectiveness of the program, including feedback on the quality of the condoms and receptivity by clients. The Department will use the survey results for the next round of condoms purchased.
“The District was one of the first cities in the nation to distribute its own condoms, and we’ve been in constant communication with our community partners to assess the program’s success,” said Dr. Pane. “We’re committed to learning what works best for the District.”
While abstinence is the only absolute fail-safe method for preventing HIV infection, laboratory studies show that condoms are 95 percent effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection. DOH encourages everyone to handle condoms carefully and use only water-based lubricant. Lubricants containing spermicides, also known as nonoxynol-9, should be avoided, as they can increase the risk of HIV transmission.
Select the following links for information about the condoms, including directions on how to use them and sites where organizations have free condoms. Organizations that are interested in distributing free condoms can apply to receive shipments on the web site.
The million condom distribution program complements DOH’s goals to encourage residents to be screened for HIV, institute routine screening in all health care settings, educate and equip residents to prevent HIV, and provide care and treatment to people with HIV/AIDS. In 2005, the District had the highest rate of AIDS cases, with 128.4 cases per 100,000 people, among all jurisdictions in the country conducting AIDS surveillance. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that more than one million people in the United States are living with HIV. An estimated 25 percent of those do not know they are infected, and they are the cause of half of new infections. Research shows that those individuals who know their HIV status and are connected to care live longer and modify their behavior to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to others.
More information is available on the HIV/AIDS webpages.