Who needs condoms?
Young people do, according to Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit that works to help young people make informed decisions about their sexual health.
Each day almost 25,000 young people in the United States ages 15 to 24 contract a sexually transmitted disease, according to the organization. The most serious is HIV. One-fourth of all new HIV infections occur in young people ages 13 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, about 750,000 teens become pregnant each year — the vast majority unintentionally, according to Advocates for Youth.
A sweeping project to distribute condoms, the Great American Condom Campaign, will distribute 1.4 million condoms on college campuses around the country this school year.
Sponsored by Advocates for Youth, this campaign will recruit about 2,400 college students to be volunteer distributors.
Condoms — effective in preventing pregnancy — are the most effective way to prevent HIV and many sexually transmitted diseases, according to Advocates for Youth.
“Our focus is on HIV,” said Ariel Cerrud, director of the Great American Condom Campaign, but the campaign is also concerned about other STDs.
“The rate of infection of gonorrhea and syphilis continues to be high,” he said.
The goal is to “normalize condom use among young people,” he said.
Too many barriers currently exist, he said. “For some young people, access to condoms is so limited.”
The campaign offers them without judgment.
The rate of HIV infection is particularly high among young black men and Latino men who are having sex with men, Cerrud said.
As a result, the Great American Condom Campaign is targeting historically black campuses, those with a high Latino population and community colleges. It focuses on campuses with little or no condom distribution, Cerrud said.
The campaign has passed out condoms for eight years. Last year, condoms were distributed on 1,088 campuses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Advocates for Youth has also received a $150,000 grant from pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to recruit and train youth activists to improve HIV/AIDS programs in their communities.
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