While they have the attention of lovers and horny people everywhere, health officials are glomminh onto Valentine's Day to promote National Condom Week. And that's probably a good idea, considering the news last week detailing San Francisco's STD problem.
Today, the California Family Health Council is teaming up with the California Department of Health to launch the Condom Access Project, hoping this will get more teens to use condoms and stop the egregious spread of STDs.
In short, it means free condoms for kids!
Here's how this program works:
Kids in select California counties, including San Francisco, can go online and confidentially request a small package of 10 condoms, personal lubricant, and information materials that explains what can happen of they don't use condoms. The package will be sent to them once a month.
In addition, there will now be condom access sites, meaning designated youth-serving organizations will receive regular shipment of condoms to give away to teens who visit their sites. Teens can find where to pick up these free condoms through TeenSource.org. The site will also include a map of other teen-friendly clinics and organizations that already give free condoms to kids.
"We know from research that significant barriers to condom access remain for youth, " said Julie Rabinovitz, president and CEO, California Family Health Council. "They cost a lot, youth are uncomfortable asking for them, and in some areas, free condoms can be hard to find."
Yes, teen pregnancy rates have declined across the state, but in select areas, like our fair city, STDs remain a pervasive problem, particularly cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia, according to health officials.
Last week, the Bay Area Reporter gave a sad snapshot of San Francisco's STD problem, explaining that the number of gonorrhea cases climbed by double digits
last year. Reported gonorrhea cases jumped from 1,943 in 2010 to 2,243
in 2011 -- a 15.4 percent increase. Meanwhile, the number of rectal
gonorrhea cases among men surged last year to 622 cases, a 38.2 percent
increase over the 479 cases recorded in 2010.
Even more depressing, the number of early syphilis cases rose to 682 last year, from 659 in 2010.
So treat your Valentine right tonight, and give them candy or flowers instead of STDs.
For more information, go to www.teensource.org
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