|Condom machine illustration|
When (Scroll down for video) Students at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, schools are seeing newly installed free condom dispensers, according to Philadelphia city officials.
The condom dispensers will be placed in the 22 schools whose students had the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and will be available to any student, as long as their parents did not sign a form to opt out of the program.
It is a pilot program designed to address "an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents in Philadelphia," Donald F. Schwarz, the deputy mayor for health and opportunity, said. Since April 2011, the city has given away nearly four million condoms and now, sexually transmitted disease rates are falling.
However, Schwarz said, 25 percent of new HIV infections in Philadelphia, are teenagers and that's a major concern.
Some high schools in the city that have "resource centers for health," already distribute free
condoms. The Department of Health also provides high schools in the city tests for teens on sexually transmitted diseases every year voluntarily with parental consent.
The pilot program is the next logical step, Schwarz said.
"I favor the policy," Philadelphia Mayor Nutter said. "This is a serious public health issue."
Peg Devine, a school nurse in Lincoln, which is not a participant in the pilot program, said that she supported making condoms available to sexually active students. However, she is concerned about the ability to stretch nurses to juggle another task.