A new federally-funded program allows minors in California as young as 12 to get free condoms shipped to their door with just the click of a button.
The Condom Access Program (CAP), which took root in February of 2012, allows California residents between the ages of 12 and 19 who live within designated “teen-friendly” and “STD hot-spot” areas to confidentially order a 10-pack of condoms per month via the Internet.
Recently, the program has expanded to both Fresno and San Diego counties, reports CNN. This brings the total number of participating counties to seven.
The program, as stated in a press release from the California Family Health Council (CFHC), is “designed to encourage safe practices and increase condom accessibility for California youth who are currently sexually active.”
The point, apparently, is that STDs are becoming more widespread, and teen pregnancies continue to be an issue. A major problem, states the release, is that youth limit condom usage due to “embarrassment and concerns related to confidentiality, cost and accessibility.” The CHFC hopes to eliminate these issues by providing a confidential way to access birth control.
"California is experiencing a near public health crisis with STD rates among teens rising to alarming levels," said CFHC President and CEO Julie Rabinovitz. "By providing sexually active teens and their parents with the tools they need to prevent STDs and unintended pregnancy, we are hoping to move the needle in the right direction."
Granting minors access to condoms, however, has raised concerns with many parents, who believe that the government should have much less say in what their children can or cannot access without parental supervision.
Other concerns about the program look at the psychological effects that providing young children with condoms could potentially create, asking whether the younger end of the spectrum would be encouraged to begin thinking about having sex at an earlier age than they would naturally.
“Research,” however, the CFCH’s statement explains, “shows that condoms are an effective method for preventing transmission of STDs and pregnancy, and that making contraceptives, including condoms, available to youth does not increase sexual activity or risk taking.”
The program has shipped a reported 30,000 condoms since the beginning of the program just over a year ago.