Indexed on: 04 Dec '13Published on: 04 Dec '13Published in: Journal of Urban Health
We assessed awareness and use of the "NYC Condom" among persons who use heroin and cocaine in New York City. The NYC Condom distribution program is the largest free condom distribution program in the USA, with over 30 million condoms distributed per year. It includes a condom social marketing program for a specific brand, the NYC Condom with its own packaging and advertising. People who use heroin and cocaine are at relatively high risk for HIV infection and are an important target population for the program. In order to assess awareness of the NYC Condom, structured interviews and blood testing for HIV, HSV-2, and sexually transmitted infections (STI) were conducted among entrants to the Beth Israel Medical Center drug detoxification and methadone treatment programs. Participants were asked about drug use, sexual risk behaviors, and awareness and use of the NYC Condom. Univariate and multivariable regression analyses were conducted to examine the associations between use of NYC Condoms and consistent condom use with primary and casual sexual partners. A total of 970 subjects were recruited between February 2011 and December 2012. Subjects were primarily African-American and Hispanic, with a mean age of 43. Fifty-five percent of subjects reported being sexually active with primary sexual partners, and 25 % reported being sexually active with a casual partner for the 6 months prior to the interview. Sixty-five percent of subjects had heard of the NYC Condom, 48 % of those who had heard of the condom had used it, and 58 % of those who had ever used it were currently using it (in the previous 6 months). In multivariable regression analyses, current use of NYC Condoms was strongly associated with consistent condom use with primary sexual partners (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.99, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.85-8.58) and consistent condom use with casual sexual partners (AOR = 4.48, 95 % CI 1.49-13.42). In terms of market share, 38 % of subjects consistently using condoms with primary partners were using the NYC Condom, and 47 % of those consistently using condoms with casual partners were using the NYC Condom. The NYC Condom is an important tool for reducing sexual transmission of HIV and STI among persons who use drugs in the city. Given the strong relationship between using the NYC Condom and consistent condom use, further efforts to promote the NYC Condom brand would be easily justified.