Condoms aren’t talked about enough within professional STD circles...
While, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually announces and awards plaques to jurisdictions with high immunization rates, I can’t remember a time when STD professionals congratulated each other on having high condom rates. That‘s why I sometimes think of the condoms as the “C” word: it’s not a word STD professionals discuss very much, or at least ever brag about.
Condoms don’t get the respect they deserve. If it weren’t for condoms, I wonder whether the HIV epidemic among MSM in the 1990’s would have stabilized. And even now, is it fair to credit condom use for at least partially contributing to keeping HIV rates among MSM in check the past decade, as well as curbing the recent rising rates of syphilis among MSM?
With the recent advent of PrEP as an effective biomedical intervention to prevent HIV infection, condoms seem more and more like yesterday’s news. Will the uptake of PrEP create a new generation of MSM who forego condom use in favor of taking a pill a day and risking a STD that can be easily treated with an antibiotic?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I am reassured that condom distribution programs have been supported by the CDC. I’ve also learned about some very creative and successful condom campaigns developed in cities/states both far and wide, from New York City to Alaska.
It’s time to begin thinking about condoms like we do vaccines, as well as crediting states for promoting their use. I envision a day when the “Where the Rubber Meets the Road Award” is given at a national STD conference to a deserving jurisdiction that ranks #1 for condom rates in the nation.
Responses to this post are most welcome, especially any examples of successful condom distribution programs across the nation. Progress and insights regarding getting condoms into correctional facilities and high schools would also be of interest. Please direct all responses to Stephen Hicks, our Health Equity and Capacity Building Manager.