ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.--()--AIDS Healthcare Foundation:
“we already see ourselves greatly exceeding our initial estimates”
Free condom distribution & HIV testing event by Condom Nation
WEDNESDAY, March 20th 10 am – 2 pm
|Where:||USF St. Petersburg Campus – Parking Lot adjacent to Student Center|
|140 Seventh Ave. South|
|St. Petersburg, FL 33701|
|B-Roll:||Custom-wrapped 18-wheel Condom Nation big rig and matching HIV testing van providing free condoms and testing|
The mobile condom distribution team that distributed 5.5 million condoms throughout the U.S. last year, Condom Nation – an initiative from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization – has launched their second U.S. tour. After the team’s 18-wheel, 72-foot custom-wrapped big rig and matching HIV testing sprinter van made a speedy cross-country cruise from California to South Florida, the team dropped off nearly 50,000 condoms in Pensacola, Jacksonville, and Orlando en route to the Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale on March 24th. Today, the team is stopping at the St. Petersburg campus of South Florida University to provide more free condoms and HIV tests.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1.4 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2011, and reporting of new gonorrhea cases saw its second consecutive year of increase with more than 300,000 new cases that year. These are just some of the estimated 20 million new STD cases reported annually, half of which occur in young people aged 15 -24. The CDC estimates the health care costs to the nation for treating these diseases – which are preventable through condom use – to be about $16 billion per year.
“Condom Nation is about access to condoms,” said Condom Nation Director James Vellequette. “Our goal is to make condoms easily and readily available for free or at a very minimal cost to those receiving them through our widespread, national, fun and motivated distribution efforts. Simultaneously, we need to eliminate the stigma around having condoms, carrying them, selling them, or best of all, giving them away so that everyone has access to them whenever they need them.”
The tour had a preliminary goal of distributing 25 million condoms through their domestic U.S. tour and an additional 25 million through newly launched global Condom Nation teams in countries around the world. However, with requests pouring in from public and private agencies across the US, coupled with new opportunities to access younger demographics through distribution to high schools and colleges, “we already see ourselves greatly exceeding our initial estimates,” said Vellequette, adding that 50 million condoms distributed in the U.S. alone is a more accurate projection.
Condom Nation left Los Angeles on Sunday, March 10th, and has made stops in Dallas, Texas – where the team dropped over 600,000 condoms for distribution to agencies in need across the south – and in Little Rock, Arkansas, where they provided more than 50,000 condoms to the state’s Department of Health. About 12,000 condoms were given away over the weekend at a distribution and testing event in Pensacola last Saturday, where 15 people were tested for HIV. At an event in Jacksonville earlier this week, another 30,000 condoms were distributed and 21 people were tested for HIV using the bioLytical Laboratories’ INSTITM Rapid HIV Test, which gives accurate results in just sixty seconds.
After Wednesday’s event in St. Petersburg, the Condom Nation Tour will proceed to the South Florida city of Fort Myers to offer free condoms and HIV tests before the big rig and van arrive in Fort Lauderdale for the Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival on March 24th. Following that, the team will head up the East Coast in time to make an appearance at AHF’s Keep The Promise on AIDS March and Rally in Brooklyn, NY on April 6th.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over 200,000 individuals in 28 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @AIDSHealthcare