Twenty-two high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will be part of a condom distribution pilot program in an attempt to reduce sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs) among Philadelphia teenagers.
The schools with the highest rates of STIs among students were selected to be a part of the program that features condom dispensers inside school health offices. Condoms were available to students prior to this program once a year when the school district offered free STI testing, but were not available year round. The results of the annual STI tests were used to justify the pilot program as well as to determine which schools would be selected to participate. With the new program, students can take condoms from the dispensers as needed providing that their parents did not elect to opt out of the program.
Philadelphia school district spokesman Fernando Gallard told reporters, “We believe distributing condoms is part of our obligation to keep students healthy and to remain healthy. The health department has described this as a continued epidemic of STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia.” According to Donald F. Schultz, deputy mayor for health and opportunity, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that despite falling STI rates in the city since April 2011, teenagers make up approximately 25% of new HIV infections.