Letter: Free condoms offered to students

This letter is in response to Jacob Linduski’s editorial about “where are all the condoms hiding”?  As advocates for prevention, we in Prevention Services share Jacob’s passion for reducing Sexually Transmitted Infections & STDs at Iowa State.  We appreciate Jacob’s question about condom distribution on campus and we would like to address that question with some additional information, as well as provide some statistics about our robust condom distribution program at Iowa State. 

We share Jacob’s charge to make condoms and other safer sex supplies available and accessible to students for free.  In fact, making condoms available and accessible through condom distribution programs is well supported by research.  Research has shown that condom distribution programs are effective in increasing condom acquisition, increasing condom use and reducing Sexually Transmitted Infections.  

Condom distribution programs have also been shown to be cost-effective and cost-saving.  At Iowa State, we have a structural-level condom distribution program that has existed and grown since 2000.  At Prevention Services, we make safer sex supplies available and accessible to students and departments for free throughout the entire year.  

Over the last three years, we have distributed over 225,000 condoms to Iowa State students including over 83,000 condoms in the 2013-14 academic year.  Already within the first month of classes this year, we have distributed over 40,000 condoms and other safer sex supplies to students for free!  The safer sex supplies we provide include standard lubricated condoms, flavored condoms, dental dams, water-based lubricant, and non-latex condoms.  These supplies are available for free to anyone who requests them. 

Jacob mentioned part of our program in his editorial and we would like to elaborate a little more on that portion of our condom distribution program.  Free Condom Wednesday and Thursday is coordinated by Prevention Services and run by student volunteers who work at tables in the Union Drive Community Center on Wednesdays and Memorial Union on Thursdays to make safer sex supplies and information available and accessible for students. 

Our program helps make safer sex supplies and information visible on campus.  In addition, it helps regularize condom use and acceptability by having them available in highly visible places on campus every week.   As Jacob referenced, we also recognize the barriers for some students to approach the Free Condom Wednesday and Thursday tables which is why an important and large part of our condom distribution program is run through our “Online Condom Request Form.” 

Any student, student organization, university office or department can visit our website (http://www.cyclonehealth.org/prevention/condom-distribution/) and request any of the safer sex items we have available for free throughout the year in bulk orders by filling out an “Online Condom Request Form.” 

The online request portion of our condom distribution program has experienced great success and continues to grow every year!  Condom orders are available for pick up in the Prevention Services department typically within 24 hours of their request.  Because of our program, condoms are available in all residence hall floors and hall desks, the student health clinic, many Greek chapter houses and multiple other locations on campus such as the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and LGBTSS.  

In closing, we appreciate Jacob’s passion and share his mission to have safer sex supplies available and accessible to all students.  Through strong student voices like Jacob’s, all students can help spread the word about our condom distribution program, request condoms for themselves or their student groups for free and make safer sex supplies and information even more available to students on campus.  Together, we can all help make a #saferstate!

Lauri Dusselier

Prevention Services Manager, Student Health