Starting January, young people in France will have free access to condoms. The move is an effort to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. The French President, Emmanuel Macron announced the move and said “It’s a small revolution for contraception,” during a health debate with young people, as quoted by The Guardian. This move will also be advantageous as this year’s exceptional inflation is cutting especially deeply into the budgets of France’s poorest. Condoms are already covered by the country’s healthcare system when recommended by a doctor or midwife.
In 2020 and 2021 France experienced a 30% national increase in STI rates. On sexual education overall, the president said: “We are not very good on this subject. The reality is very, very different from the theory. It’s an area where we need to much better educate our teachers,” as quoted by The Guardian.
Earlier this year the government made contraception free for all women up to 26 years old. This was a move that impacted three million women. Until recently, women and girls who were 18 or younger could get contraception for free. It was initially announced that the measure would only apply to people ages 18 to 25. After several people and activists pointed out that minors, too, could contract sexually transmitted diseases, Macron announced that he was extending the policy to underage people. When he became France’s youngest-ever president in 2017 at age 39, he promised to step up efforts to prevent and test for HIV and other sexually transmitted viruses.
Another example of an effective condom-distribution program comes from the Netherlands. Public health groups teamed up with gay bars and saunas nationwide to provide free condoms and lubricant. They found that condom use at these venues increased while the incidence risk of chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV decreased. In the UK as well, You can get free condoms from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries.
Promoting condom use has been part of HIV prevention strategies since the beginning of the epidemic. Distributing free condoms has proved to be cost-effective and cost-saving. Studies have found that free condoms at public sex venues could reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Distribution of condoms is a low-cost, simple-to-implement intervention that has the potential to significantly lower STIs. Despite how taboo it may still be considered, distributing condoms in schools also helps prevent pregnancy and STDs.