A new contract by the San Francisco Department of Health is aiming to make safe sex a major priority in the city.
Earlier this month, the Department introduced Contract Proposal 60604: Condoms, an aggressive purchase order that would flood health centers, high schools, office buildings and bars and nightclubs throughout the city with free condoms and lubricants. Or as Tracey Packer, acting director of HIV Prevention at the Department of Public Health, said in an interview with SF Weekly, "We're trying to blanket the city with condoms."
Packer is hardly exaggerating: the order seeks to invest $200,000 to $240,000 on safe sex materials. As Brandon R. Reynolds noted in the SF Weekly article, the investment is a significant uptick compared to 2008's $60,000 condom budget.
"There are two main reasons for the increase," explained Packer to The Huffington Post. "First, the cost of condoms has increased. And second, the CDC [Center for Disease Control] recently released a report that listed condom distribution as one of its top four priorities for disease prevention. So we want to make sure San Francisco gets the condoms it needs."
The Department outlined the goals of the project in its proposal:
"The purpose of this contract is to provide a responsive and responsible source of supply of products for sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention and family planning, including condoms, lubricants and latex products and other disposable items to the City and County of San Francisco," outlined the Department in the proposal.
Reynolds clearly had a fun time detailing the intricacies of the measure:
And just what sorts of condoms does the city want to slide into the pockets of our chinos? A sampling from the Bid Sheet sounds like a sushi menu: The Kimono Special, the Okamoto Crown Skin-less-Skin (from the High School Custom Kit), the Rough Rider and Tuxedo, the Okamoto Beyond Seven, the LifeStyles "His N Her," and the Snugger. Also witness Assorted Flavors (including mint), something called "Pleasure Pops," and, in a heady display of progressive thought, the Female Condom Starter Kit.
Packer says decisions about what types of condoms to purchase are made "based on consumer preferences" — by asking participants which colors and flavors are flying out of the nightclubs, mom-and-pop grocery stores, city offices, schools and other businesses that receive shipments from DPH and some 30 other groups in the city. Is the city trying to make sex fun? It's trying to make condom use appealing, she says. "People won't use them if they aren't interesting to them."
While safe sex has always been a priority for the Department, the past year has seen a greater push towards increasing awareness.
In September, the Department observed the first Global Female Condom Day by expanding access to the FC2 female condom, a receptive partner-initiated condom, dubbing the campaign "FC2 – Get Turned On To It."
“The FC2 is not only for vaginal sex but it is a great prevention option for anal sex as well,” said Director of STD Prevention and Control Services, Susan Philip in a release. “We felt it was important to make the FC2 available and accessible to people of all genders in San Francisco and we want to make sure that everyone knows about the different options they have to protect themselves and their partners.”