“Teenagers in several counties can get condoms in the mail for free under a program launched this week and supported by state public health officials,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported Feb. 18.
“The Condom Access Project allows youth between the ages of 12 and 19 to order a package of 10 condoms, lube and health brochures online at TeenSource.org, a website run by the nonprofit California Family Health Council,” the newspaper reported.
The program will be available in Kern, Alameda, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties as well as parts of San Francisco, according to the Chronicle.
The inclusion of San Francisco would seem to be redundant. Free condoms have been available in San Francisco public schools since at least 1997. The 2009-2010 “Student and Parent/Guardian Handbook” issued by the San Francisco Unified School District includes the entry: “High school students can secure condoms from licensed health care professionals or agencies at their school sites supported by health education. As part of the condom availability program, students receive information stressing abstinence as the safest method of preventing sexually transmitted disease, HIV infection, and pregnancy. Several community agencies which offer classroom presentations that address topics related to sexuality have been approved to give classroom presentations in San Francisco for elementary grades, middle school and high school.”
The “stressing of abstinence” is questionable. Another Chronicle published Feb. 16, reported: “Galileo High School celebrated Valentine's Day in a style befitting San Francisco on Tuesday as hundreds of students lined up to ‘marry’ their sweethearts regardless of gender, sexual orientation or relationship status. They then learned how to correctly put on a condom using goggles that gave them a drunken view of things, and played a variety of games that promoted safer sex… At one table, health teacher Raina Meyers put goggles on students that made their vision slightly blurry, simulating a drunken state. She then told them to put a condom on a wooden penis.”
The article also reported: “Many students admitted they decided to participate after teachers said they would get extra credit.”
Ironically, the articles coincided with the release of preliminary data on the incidence of venereal diseases in the city and county of San Francisco for calendar year 2011. Despite the ubiquitous availability of free condoms, venereal diseases in San Francisco continue to increase.
The report, issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said in part: “Preliminary data on reported STDs shows increases for chlamydia, gonorrhea and early syphilis in 2011.”
Detailed results were given: “Overall, reported chlamydia increased from 4,603 to 4,741 cases (3.0%) while male rectal chlamydia increased in 2011 from 914 to 959 cases for a 4.9% annual increase. Reported gonorrhea cases increased 15.4% from 1,943 in 2010 to 2,243 in 2011. Additionally, rectal gonorrhea among men also increased from 479 cases to 622 cases -- a 38.2% increase. After declines in early syphilis seen in 2008, early syphilis continues to increase. In 2011, reported early syphilis increased by 3.5% from 659 cases to 682.”
Gibbons Cooney writes for CalCatholic from where this article is republished.