The district is installing dispensers over winter break at high schools with the highest rates of STDs.
Coming over the holiday break to about a third of Philadelphia high schools: clear plastic dispensers chock-full of free condoms.
The dispensers will be placed in the 22 high schools whose students had the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and condoms will be available to any student – so long as their parents did not sign a form opting them out of the program.
It’s a pilot designed to address “an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease in adolescents in Philadelphia,” said Donald F. Schwarz, the deputy mayor for health and opportunity. Since April 2011, the city has given away about four million condoms, and now, STD rates are falling.
But, Schwarz pointed out, 25 percent of new HIV infections in Philadelphia are teens, and that’s a major worry.
Some city high schools – the dozen that have “health resource centers” – already dispense free condoms. And the Health Department also provides them at city high schools when they go in to test teens for STDs, as they do every year voluntarily with a parent’s consent.
The pilot is the next logical step, Schwarz said.
“I support the policy strongly,” said Mayor Nutter. “This is a serious public health matter.”