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Making A Difference: Responding to HIV and STD Rates in our Community

Erie County, PA
Program Year: 2017

In Erie County, Pennsylvania, HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea rates continue to rise. The Erie County Department of Health and the Erie County HIV Task Force responded to this problem by introducing the Condom Distribution Program (CDP) which was launched on August 22, 2016. This initiative increases the accessibility and availability of free condoms with the goal of normalizing condom use and thereby decreasing HIV and STD transmission in the community. The program includes several strategies: • Multiple condom distribution sites where people can obtain condoms free of charge throughout Erie County. • A social marketing campaign, which includes information on STDs and HIV, and locations where to get condoms and STD & HIV testing. • A traditional marketing campaign, which includes flyers and news releases. Distribution sites throughout the county are provided with condoms, lubricants, bags and signage designating them as distribution sites and include health centers, barber shops, drug & alcohol centers and community-based organizations. Individuals can go to any distribution site to request condoms and will be given a confidential bag of 12 condoms. The CDP includes multiples sites in Erie County’s highest risk neighborhoods. Surveillance maps provided by the PA Department of Health were used to target areas with a high prevalence of STDs and HIV. Outreach was then conducted to businesses and non-traditional venues in these neighborhoods to become a distribution center. The initiative initially signed on 15 distribution sites and has increased to 25 sites since the launch date. As of 3/1/17 21,488 condoms have been distributed to individuals in Erie County.

Ms. Laura Ann Beckes
Disease Investigation Specialist