10/20/2011 10:00 am ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

CVS Locked Condoms: Group Says Chain Makes Sexual Protection Hard To Get In HIV-Prone Areas

WASHINGTON -- A group is criticizing the CVS pharmacy chain of keeping condoms locked up in stores located in areas with high rates of HIV, especially in Prince George's County. As Hyattsville Patch reports:

The Save Lives: Free the Condoms group's September 2011 census of CVS stores in Prince George's County found that 30 percent of them had condoms locked up or otherwise immediately inaccessible to shoppers.

The stores with locked and inaccessible condoms were more likely to be located in minority neighborhoods and neighborhoods with higher rates of HIV than the stores with accessible condoms, according to the study.

CVS contends that the special security precautions are in place only in stores where theft has been a problem. This isn't the first time CVS has been criticized for keeping its condoms under lock and key. As Washington City Paper detailed in 2009, CVS stores in the District made efforts to make condoms more accessible after public pressure. The chain installed "click boxes" in some stores as a compromise, though the devices often broke down. As Amanda Hess wrote at the time:

Even fully functional click-boxes are often monitored by additional store security. Many are situated right in front of the pharmacy counter, where whitecoats can watch your every move--or at least hear it. Pushing the red button triggers a loud grinding noise that makes the experience less than discreet.