In an effort to combat HIV and STIs, Equitas Health, a nonprofit organization, and the Ohio Department of Health has launched the Free Condom Project giving away though mail 25 condoms a month to any Ohio resident who requests them through the new Ohio HIV/STI Hotline.
Merissa Hawkins, statewide initiatives coordinator for Equitas Health, said people would come to the HIV testing sites but were uncomfortable taking condoms.
“We had people who were saying they were too embarrassed,” Hawkins said. “We realized there was a need.”
The Ohio Department of Health supplies the condoms and Equitas Health pays for the shipping and they be mailed directly, and discretely, to the home or desired address of any Ohioan
Each order contains 25 condoms of mixed sizes and styles unless the requester specifies otherwise. The requirements: you must be an Ohio resident and you must be over the age of 16 (the age of consent). Each person is allowed one order per month, and they aren’t available to organizations.
The mail order also includes information about HVI/STI test sites near the recipient.
Hawkins said with just a team of five, they’ve already fulfilled 1,300 orders.
Hawkins said it’s about reducing barriers to acquiring the condoms, and that means investing in prevention.
“Public health-wise, we know as soon as they get tools in their hands, they use them,” Hawkins said.
So far, the main hubs for the Free Condom Project are Cleveland and Columbus, but Hawkins said there are talks of moving into Cincinnati.
But they haven’t quite caught on yet in the Queen City (Cincinnati) are yet with orders being low.