As part of Valentine’s Day celebrations, both the District of Columbia and New York City launched projects to distribute branded condoms, making them two of the first municipalities in the United States to create their own condoms.
On February 14th, New York City unveiled the official city condom in midtown Manhattan, with a theme that revolves around the subway featuring the logos of the various train lines. The city promoted its new campaign with the slogan “New York, We’ve got you covered.” On Valentine’s Day alone, 150,000 condoms were handed out free throughout downtown. The city negotiated a deal with the maker of Lifestyles brand allowing it to buy the condoms from the manufacture for just 4 cents per condom, putting the expense to the city at just $720,000 annually.1
On February 16th, the District of Columbia distributed 250,000 purple and mustard-yellow packaged condoms, which were promoted with the slogan “Coming together to fights AIDS.”. Officials hope to hand out 1 million by year’s end in an effort to minimize the dramatically high rates of HIV in the District. The District has a rate of new AIDS cases that is 10 times the national average. Gregg A. Pane, the director of the Health Department, stated “It’s overdue—tangible proof we’re doing something good for public health.”2
Backlash has been mostly muted. Yet, Roman Catholic leaders in New York City have released a joint statement criticizing the city’s efforts. Cardinal Edward Egan, head of the Archdiocese of New York, and Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn jointly stated, “Our political leaders fail to protect the moral tone of our community when they encourage inappropriate sexual activity by blanketing our neighborhoods with condoms.”3 Their statement also added that the only way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases was through abstinence before marriage and fidelity among married couples.4
- Julie Farby, “NYC Hands Out Free Condoms to Celebrate Valentine’s Day,” All Headline News, 14 February 2007, accessed 15 February 2007 <http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/700646362>.
- Susan Levine, “250,000 Condoms Deployed For HIV Awareness, Prevention,” Washington Post, 16 February 2007, accessed 17 February 2007 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
- Sara Kugler, “Catholics attack NYC’s Free Condoms”, Yahoo News, 15 February 2007, accessed 20 February 2007 <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070216/ap_on_re_us/condoms_catholic_church>.