NEW YORK CITY – February 14, 2007 –The New York City Health Department today unveiled the NYC Condom, the first in the nation with an official brand. The NYC Condom is the same high-quality LifeStyles product the Health Department now distributes through health centers and community organizations. The price hasn't changed – it's still free – but the package has a bold new look.
"Condoms can prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancies," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City's Health Commissioner. "Abstinence is failsafe, and reducing the number of sexual partners reduces risk of infections. But for sexually active people, using a condom is key to staying healthy."
During the morning rush, community volunteers and others handed out more than 150,000 NYC Condoms across the five boroughs. More than 100 night spots and retail outlets – including Kenneth Cole, Theory and MAC Cosmetics – are giving them out to clients throughout the day, and many will continue to distribute them. NYC Condoms are also available, starting today, in bulk order to clinics and community organizations. To find out where to get a free NYC Condom, or to place a bulk order, call 311 or visit www.nyccondom.org.
With the help of an Internet-based ordering system, the Health Department has recently boosted the distribution of free condoms from 2.5 million per year to some 18 million per year. The new branding effort will further increase the number. The Health Department's publicity campaign will blanket subways, phone booths and other public spaces with display ads in English and Spanish, with iconic city imagery and a message: NYC Condoms – Get Some. Radio advertisements are running in English and Spanish.
Joining the Health Department for today's announcement were business and community leaders who have spearheaded New York's long fight against HIV/AIDS. Fashion designer and amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole served as co-chair of the condom campaign.
Dr. Marjorie Hill, chief executive officer of Gay Men's Health Crisis, also joined the announcement, as did leaders from community-based groups including the Latino Commission on AIDS, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, and Gay Men of African Descent.
"The NYC Condom is a great opportunity to promote health," said Kenneth Cole, who hosted the launch event at his store in Rockefeller Center. "Any successful product has a strong brand, and condoms are no different." During the press conference, Cole also unveiled a new line of tee shirts and boxer shorts. Each sports a condom-size pocket and a discreet woven label that reads: Safety Instructions: This garment and its contents should be worn whenever conceivable.
Hill of GMHC stressed that safer sex is better sex, whatever one's orientation. "HIV affects everyone regardless of race, religion or creed – men and women, rich and poor, straight, gay or bisexual," she said. "The risk is higher for some groups than others, but condoms are for everyone. Twenty-five years into the AIDS pandemic, using one is still the most effective way sexually active people can protect themselves."
Distributing the NYC Condom
As co-chair of the condom campaign, Cole is leading a coalition of businesses in an effort to keep free NYC Condoms in wide circulation. Any New York City establishment – be it a health club, coffee house, bar, barbershop or clothing store – can become a partner in the campaign by calling 3-1-1 or visiting www.nyccondom.org. The Health Department will deliver free NYC Condoms as needed to meet demand.
New York City's condom initiative dates back to 1971, when the Health Department started distributing them through its clinics. The program expanded during the 1980s to include community-based service organizations and increased more than seven-fold in June 2005, when the Department launched an Internet-based bulk ordering system. The agency now gives out more than 1.5 million condoms every month through a growing network of almost 900 partners including clinics, community centers and commercial establishments, including bars, clubs, barbershops and beauty salons.
Highlights of the NYC Condom launch:
- On Valentine's Day, the Health Department and
volunteer staff distribute more than 150,000 NYC Condoms on the street
throughout the five boroughs. More than a million condoms are available on
Valentine's Day through the Health Department's partner network of 200
commercial and community venues.
- Several NYC businesses, including MAC, Kenneth Cole
and Theory stores, offer free NYC Condoms to customers on Valentine's Day.
Kenneth Cole and Theory will continue to distribute free condoms in their
- Clinics, community organizations and neighborhood
businesses that currently receive condoms from the Health Department start
receiving the branded model.
- The Health Department launches a bilingual (English/Spanish) promotional poster and radio campaign for the NYC Condom.
Visit www.nyccondom.org for information about how to get (and use) free NYC condoms. The Web site also offers high-resolution images of the NYC Condom package and the display ads that will promote it.