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New York to
launch an official city condom

New York to
launch an official city condom

Available soon: an official New York City condom.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration wants to reduce rates of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, and part of the strategy is the aggressive promotion of free condoms. Officials say more people will use them if they have jazzy packaging.

One idea is a subway theme with maps on the wrappers.

''Brands work, and people use branded items more than they use nonbranded items, whether it's a cola or a medicine even,'' health commissioner Thomas Frieden said.

New York City hands out 1.5 million free condoms each month, or about 18 million a year. Hundreds of organizations get free condoms from the city and distribute them at health clinics, bars, restaurants, nail salons, nightclubs, and even prisons.

Widespread free distribution started after Frieden became health commissioner in 2002 and found that the city's STD disease clinics were limiting each patient to receiving a small number.

''I thought that was nuts--of all the people you'd like to have an unlimited supply of condoms, it's people who have an STD,'' said Frieden. ''Condoms work--they're just not where they need to be as often as they need to be.''

There is now even a bowl of condoms outside Frieden's office.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV and AIDS. AIDS remains the third-leading cause of death among New Yorkers under 65.

The number of condoms distributed by the city multiplied several times after the health department launched its online ordering system in 2005. Individuals cannot order, but any organization or venue can request unlimited free condoms. (AP)

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