New York City to Hand Out Free City Condoms on Valentine's Day

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New York was set to unveil the official city condom in midtown Manhattan, just in time for the Valentine's Day holiday.

Volunteers were to hand them out free at Fifth Avenue and 50th Street. The city's health department program already distributes 1.5 million free condoms each month, but officials hope a new city-themed wrapper will help them track their disease-prevention efforts better.

The new design is said to revolve around a subway theme, with different colors for the various train lines.

Health CommissionerThomas Frieden recently told The Associated Press that the distinctive wrapper will provide the opportunity to include questions about the condom on the city's annual health survey.

"We ask, 'Did you use a condom the last time you had sex?' And once this is launched, the next time we ask that question, of those people who say yes, we'll say, 'What did the wrapper look like?"' Frieden said. "And if they describe our wrapper, then we'll know that they would have used our condom."

The city negotiated a deal with the maker of the LifeStyles brand for 4 cents per condom, putting the expense to the city at just $720,000 annually, health officials said.

More than 100,000 of New York's 8.2 million residents are living with HIV or AIDS, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been focused on reducing those rates and overall instances of sexually transmitted diseases.

The condom launch was to take place at the Kenneth Cole store, where the clothing company also planned to unveil a T-shirt and boxer shorts to complement the campaign.