LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Teens in several California counties can now order free condoms by mail.
The California Family Health Council has teamed up with the Department of Public Health's STD Control Branch to launch the Condom Access Project (CAP), designed to reduce the rate of STD transmission among teens.
Youths between the ages of 12 and 19 are encouraged to visit the website TeenSource.org, where they can order confidential home mailings or locate teen-friendly clinics in their area that distribute free condoms.
The program launched on Valentine's Day.
Free home mailings – now available to residents of Kern County, Alameda, Sacramento, San Joaquin and various areas of San Francisco – include 10 condoms, personal lubricant, and informational materials. They may be ordered once per month.
Clinic site listings are given for residents of Los Angeles and other counties.
"We know from research that significant barriers to condom access remain for youth. They cost a lot, youth are uncomfortable asking for them, and in some areas free condoms can be hard to find," said Julie Rabinovitz, President and CEO of the California Family Health Council. "CAP breaks down those barriers by providing free condoms to teens in a way that is both confidential and teen-friendly and meets them where they are – online and at home."
According to the Health Council, while California teen pregnancy rates have declined over the past decade, STD rates among teenagers have increased.
"Access to condoms for males and females with the knowledge to correctly use them is one of several essential tools for reducing unintended pregnancies and STDs," said Kern County Health Officer Dr. Claudia Jonah.
Kern County was selected for the home mailer program because it has one of the highest rates of youth chlamydia and gonorrhea in the state. The Health Council says Kern County's teen birth rate is nearly twice the national average.
for more features.