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Free City Condoms Defective, D.C. Residents Claim

Who cares if they're free? Residents in the nation's capital say the condoms being handed out have a serious problem.

As many as 70,000 condoms given away in a citywide campaign to reduce HIV and AIDS were returned this week by community groups. Another 100,000 condoms were returned in early September because of complaints their paper packaging can be easily damaged and could make the condoms ineffective.

City health officials agreed that complaints about the packaging were damaging to their citywide distribution campaign, but they have insisted the condoms were safe. They said this week they will distribute brand-name substitutes.

Since the problems were publicized, the city's condom manufacturer offered to replace all remaining supplies with Trojan, Lifestyles and other products found on drugstore shelves.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian Fenty said the city has received 125,000 of the new condoms and 400,000 more are expected in the next two weeks.