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Health: Philadelphia Health Dept. Launches 'She Takes Control' Safe Sex Campaign

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Philadelphia Department of Health has launched a new program to get teenage girls to carry condoms. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more.

The new campaign, called "She Takes Control," is encouraging girls to carry condoms.

"I think it's a good thing," said Joy Payton, of Philadelphia.

"I think that using condoms and everything else that can protect you from different diseases and having babies at an early age is a good idea," agreed Kailah Suggs, of Philadelphia.

Last April, the Philadelphia Health Department launched "Take Control Philly," a program that gives free condoms to teenagers between the ages of 11 and 19. There are 160 distribution sites and a mail-order program. But only 22 percent of the mail-orders came from females, while 78 percent were from males.

"Adolescent boys were much more interested and accepting of these condoms," said Dr. Caroline Johnson, with the Philadelphia Health Department. She said the department discovered--mainly from comments on the "Take Control Philly" Facebook page--that there was a stigma attached to girls having condoms.

"We're trying to counter the stereotypes that carrying condoms means that someone is loose or sexually promiscuous," said Dr. Johnson.

"She Takes Control" promotes female empowerment and responsibility in the hopes that more condom use will reduce the city's high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers.

"We don't believe this promotes promiscuity. We believe this promotes preparedness, and that's what this is really all about. We're not encouraging anyone to have sex if they're not ready," said Dr. Johnson.

"I think having girls carry condoms is a great idea, because it helps them become responsible for their actions in situations and helps to decrease the rates of STD's," said Dr. Josya-Gony Charles, of Philadelphia.

You'll start seeing ads on SEPTA buses and trains for the "She Takes Control" campaign. In addition to giving out free condoms to teenagers, the program also promotes safe sex.

Some religious and conservative groups have opposed the program.

For more on the program, click here.

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