This Valentine’s Day, which is also National Condom Awareness Day, finding free NYC Condoms will be easier than ever. Today, the Health Department launched the NYC Condom Finder, a free smartphone application designed to locate the five nearest New York City venues that distribute free NYC Condoms. The application allows users to determine their location through either global positioning system (GPS) technology on their smartphone or by manually entering an address. The application also provides specific directions to each venue (the user can choose from walking, driving or public transportation directions), the hours of operation for each location, the types of safer sex products available and helpful tips on condom usage. With almost 1,000 condom distribution locations throughout the five boroughs currently accessible through the mobile app, New Yorkers will find that no matter where they are, they can always be protected from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and unintended pregnancy.
To download the NYC Condom Finder application, New Yorkers with Android or Apple mobile phones should search for ‘NYC Condom’ in the Android Market or the iPhone App Store on their respective devices. The NYC Condom Facebook page will also have information about how to download the application.
The new application is the latest effort to promote condom use in New York City through the Health Department’s free condom distribution program. These innovative attempts began in 2007 when New York City launched the nation’s first branded city condom.
“The NYC Condom Finder is a useful tool to ensure that New Yorkers have access to free condoms wherever they are in the city,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Using a condom every time you have sex protects you and your partner from contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Condoms also prevent unintended pregnancy. We encourage New Yorkers to stay safe on Valentine’s Day – and everyday – by using condoms.”
If you choose to have sex, using a condom correctly and consistently is still the best method of reducing the transmission of HIV and other STIs, including Chlamydia, genital herpes, syphilis and hepatitis B and C. The Health Department also promotes testing and treatment to control these infections, if they are acquired. Partner reduction and regular condom use are the surest ways to reduce the risk of exposure to these potentially serious infections among New Yorkers who are sexually active.
How to use a condom correctly:
- Use a new condom for each sex act.
- Put the condom on when the penis is erect, before sexual contact occurs. Unroll it all the way down.
- Leave a half-inch at the tip to collect semen. Squeeze out any extra air.
- If you accidentally put on a condom the wrong way, discard it and use a new one.
- For latex condoms, use only water-based lubricants (e.g., K-Y jelly, Astroglide, Kama Sutra, Liquid Silk).
- After sex, pull out before the penis softens. Hold the base of the condom to make sure its contents do not spill.
- Dispose of the used condom by wrapping in tissue or toilet paper and throwing away in a trash can—never flush down the toilet.
- Condoms should always be stored at room temperature (68-77oF or 20-25oC), and protect condoms from prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, direct sunlight and fluorescent light. Don’t carry condoms in your wallet or car for too long – this can make them break easily – and always check expiration dates before using them.
New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov (keyword: condoms) to find more than 3,000 partner venues that offer free NYC Condoms.
How to protect yourself and others from HIV and other STDs:
- Have one partner in a mutually exclusive relationship.
- Reduce the number of people you have sex with. More partners mean more risk.
- Use a male or female condom every time you have sex. (Never use a male condom with a female condom, or more than one condom at the same time).
- Avoid using alcohol and drugs before you have sex. You’re less likely to use a condom if your judgment is impaired.
- Know your HIV status. If you have ever had sex—anal, vaginal, or oral – or injected drugs (even once), get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. We all need to know our HIV status. Any New York City resident can get a free HIV test (regardless of your immigration status or ability to pay) at one of the Health Department’s STD or TB clinics. For a complete list of locations throughout the city, call 311 or visit nyc.gov. In addition, New York State law now requires most medical facilities to offer a voluntary HIV test to anyone ages 13-64 receiving emergency, inpatient or outpatient primary care health services, with limited exceptions. If you are not offered an HIV test the next time you visit a health care provider, ask for the test. For more information, visit nyc.gov.
About the NYC Condom program
New York City’s free condom initiative began in 1971 when the Health Department started distributing male condoms through its STD clinics. Over the last 40 years, the NYC Condom program has distributed condoms in 3,000 public venues citywide (i.e., community-based organizations, clubs, restaurants), released the country’s first municipally branded condom, and most recently, launched an NYC Condom Facebook page followed by an online NYC Condom wrapper design contest last year. The NYC Condom is a lubricated Lifestyles male condom – the same one sold in stores – but has its own distinctive wrapper and it’s free. Any NYC-based organization, public or private, can order them in bulk by calling 311 or by visiting nyc.gov.