Condom Access Project Expands Free Home Mailer Program to Address High Rates of STDs Among Youth in San Diego and Fresno Counties | CFHC Press Release

Condom Access Project Expands Free Home Mailer Program to Address High Rates of STDs Among Youth in San Diego and Fresno Counties

Release Date: 
Monday, April 22, 2013
Contact Information: 

Vivian Nguyen / 510.486.0412.x2320 / nguyenv@cfhc.org

BERKELEY/LOS ANGELES, CA – The Condom Access Project (CAP), a project of California Family Health Council (CFHC), is expanding its free home mailer condom distribution program for teens to Fresno and San Diego counties, two areas that have high STD rates among  local youth.

Although teen pregnancy rates in the state have declined steadily over the past decade, STD rates among California’s youth ages 15-19 are increasing.  According to the latest data from the California Department of Public Health, teens and young adults have the highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia of all age groups in California.  

  • In 2011, 4,828 cases of gonorrhea and 42,504 cases of chlamydia were reported in males and females 15-19 years of age in California, representing 18% of all gonorrhea cases and  over a quarter (26%) of all chlamydia cases in the state.
  • Among 15-19 year olds, San Diego County has the 2nd highest number of chlamydia cases and 6th highest number of gonorrhea cases in the state.
  • Among 15-19 year olds, Fresno County has the 7th highest number of chlamydia cases and the 5th highest number of gonorrhea cases in the state.  Fresno County also has one of the 10 highest teen birth rates in the state. 

CAP, which launched on CFHC’s TeenSource.org in February 2012, is designed to encourage safe practices and increase condom accessibility for California youth who are currently sexually active through a two-pronged strategy:

  • Individual Home Mailers:  Teens in seven designated STD hot-spot counties can go online and confidentially request a package of 10 condoms, personal lubricant (to reduce breakage), and educational information up to one time per month for free.  (The project has been expanded to include Fresno and San Diego who join five existing mailer counties: Alameda, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Kern County, as well as selected areas of San Francisco.) To date, CAP has sent nearly 30,000 condoms to youth via home mailers.
  • Condom Access Sites:  65 youth-serving organizations across California receive regular shipments of condoms to be made available for free to teens who visit their sites.  Participating sites, as well as over 425 teen-friendly clinics and organizations that already provide free condoms, are included on a searchable map.

California law currently allows youth to consent to accessing sensitive health information and services, including condoms, without parental consent.  However, open and informative parent-teen communication around sexual health leads to teens making healthier decisions about sexual onset and behavior. CFHC’s TalkWithYourKids.org, TeenSource’s companion site for parents, gives parents information on how to communicate with their teens about healthy decision-making when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health.

Despite broad retail availability, teens continue to face many barriers to accessing condoms including embarrassment and concerns related to confidentiality, cost and accessibility.  CAP aims to reduce those barriers by providing additional avenues for condom access for teens who need them. 

“California is experiencing a near public health crisis with STD rates among teens rising to alarming levels,” said Julie Rabinovitz, CFHC President and CEO. “By providing sexually active teens and their parents with the tools they need to prevent STDs and unintended pregnancy, we are hoping to move the needle in the right direction. We are thrilled that we now have the capacity to expand this valuable resource for teens in San Diego and Fresno counties,” Rabinovitz added.  

Research shows that condoms are an effective method for preventing transmission of STDs and pregnancy, and that making contraceptives, including condoms, available to youth does not increase sexual activity or risk taking.

 “We have high STD rates in San Joaquin County, and youth are most affected.   Increased availability of condoms through the Condom Access Project is an important strategy to reduce STDs and unintended pregnancies for youth in our county,” said Dr. Cora Hoover, Assistant Health Officer in San Joaquin County, a county that has had nearly 3,000 condoms mailed to youth through CAP over the past year.

Condoms distributed through CAP are intended for personal use between consenting individuals and are not permitted for resale.  Teens looking for medically accurate and age-appropriate information about sexual and reproductive health are also encouraged to take advantage of the teen-friendly and youth generated resources available on TeenSource.org.

For more information on STD data and prevention, please go to std.ca.gov.

California Family Health Council (CFHC) is a statewide organization that champions and promotes quality sexual and reproductive health care for all. We achieve our mission through an umbrella of programs and services including advanced clinical research, provider training, clinic support initiatives, advocacy and consumer awareness.  CFHC administers the largest Title X family planning program system in the country.  We reach more than 1.2 million Californians every year through our Title X partnership with 76 health care organizations operating nearly 345 health centers in 42 of California''s 58 counties.

Endnotes:

  1. Cases and rate data from 2011 provisional data (cite, prepared by: California Department of Public Health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Branch, http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/std/Pages/default.aspx
  2. Parent-Child Communication: Promoting Sexually Healthy Youth, Advocates for Youth, 2010: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/parent%20child%20communication%202010.pdf
  3. Condom effectiveness: http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.htm
    A study of New York City''s school condom availability program found a significant increase in condom use among sexually active students but no increase in sexual activity. Guttmacher S, Lieberman L, Ward D, et al. Condom availability in New York City public high schools: relationships to condom use and sexual behavior. Am J Public Health 1997; 87:1427- 1433