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Condom availability programs

Health Factors: Sexual Activity
Decision Makers: Educators Employers & Businesses Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Condom availability programs provide condoms free of charge or at a reduced cost. Such programs can be implemented in a variety of settings.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased condom use
Increased condom acquisition

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that condom availability programs increase condom acquisition and use (Charania 2011, Denno 2012).

Community-based condom availability programs have been shown to increase condom use among adult males and high-risk populations such as men who have sex with men and commercial sex workers (Charania 2011). Distribution of free condoms by street outreach workers may increase condom use in high-risk populations (Denno 2012). Combining condom distribution programs with other interventions may have greater effects on condom use than distribution programs alone (Charania 2011).

School-based condom availability programs appear to increase condom acquisition among adolescents (Advocates for YouthBlake 2003Kirby 1999) and may also increase condom use (Advocates for YouthBlake 2003). Such programs have not been shown to change the frequency of sexual activity among students (Advocates for Youth, Kirby 1999).

Community-based free condom distribution programs may be more successful than subsidy programs, as cost is often a barrier to use (Cohen 1999Reece 2010). Additional characteristics of availability programs that may encourage acquisition of condoms include: providing assorted brands rather than single brand name condoms (Williams 2001) and engaging community businesses in high-risk areas or serving high-risk populations (Rovniak 2010, Renaud 2009, Cohen 1999).

Given the low cost of condoms and the potential benefits of use, free distribution programs are considered cost effective methods to increase condom use (Cohen 1999).


United States

More than 400 public schools in the US have made condoms available to students. NYC Condom is an example of a program that promotes condom use in a community setting. A 2009 evaluation indicates that the program’s web-based system is a key component of its success (Renaud 2009). 

Citations - Evidence

Advocates for Youth - Advocates for Youth. Rights. Respect. Responsibility. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Blake 2003 - Blake SM, Ledsky R, Goodenow C, et al. Condom availability programs in Massachusetts high schools: Relationships with condom use and sexual behavior. American Journal of Public Health. 2003;93(6):955-62. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Charania 2011 - Charania MR, Crepaz N, Guenther-Gray C, et al. Efficacy of structural-level condom distribution interventions: A meta-analysis of US and international studies, 1998-2007. AIDS and Behavior. 2011;15(7):1283-97. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Cohen 1999 - Cohen DA, Farley TA, Bedimo-Etame JR, et al. Implementation of condom social marketing in Louisiana, 1993-1996. American Journal of Public Health. 1999;89(2):204-8. Accessed on December 15, 2015
Denno 2012* - Denno DM, Chandra-Mouli V, Osman M. Reaching youth with out-of-facility HIV and reproductive health services: A systematic review. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2012;51(2):106–21. Accessed on December 10, 2015
Kirby 1999 - Kirby D, Brener ND, Brown NL, et al. The impact of condom distribution in Seattle schools sexual behavior and condom use. American Journal of Public Health. 1999;89(2):182-7. Accessed on February 4, 2016
Reece 2010* - Reece M, Mark K, Schick V, Herbenick D, Dodge B. Patterns of condom acquisition by condom-using men in the United States. AIDS Patient Care and STDs. 2010;24(7):429-33. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Renaud 2009 - Renaud TC, Bocour A, Irvine MK, et al. The free condom initiative: Promoting condom availability and use in New York City. Public Health Reports. 2009;124(4):481-9. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Rovniak 2010* - Rovniak LS, Hovell MF, Hofstetter CR, et al. Engaging community business in HIV prevention: A feasibility study. American Journal Health Promotion. 2010;24(5):347-53. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Williams 2001 - Williams JL, Christensen CJ, Cagle HH, Homan CE. Brief report on the effect of providing single versus assorted brand name condoms to hospital patients: A descriptive study. BMC Public Health. 2001;1(5). Accessed on November 24, 2015

Citations - Implementation

NYC Condom - New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). NYC condom. Accessed on January 12, 2016
Renaud 2009 - Renaud TC, Bocour A, Irvine MK, et al. The free condom initiative: Promoting condom availability and use in New York City. Public Health Reports. 2009;124(4):481-9. Accessed on November 9, 2015

Page Last Updated

September 10, 2014

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