Mayor Nutter launched Philadelphia's biggest new campaign against sexually transmitted diseases in two decades on Thursday, unveiling a new city condom, web site and social media that target those most at risk: teens.
The Freedom Condom - a LifeStyles Ultra Thin Lubricated inside a blue city wrapper - may be ordered free online at www.TakeControlPhilly.org, and also will be distributed at more than 100 locations around the city, easily found via iCondom Philly, the new GPS-enabled iPhone app. (There is no Android app, but a locator map works in most smart phones.)
Worrisome statistics - spikes in gonorrhea and infectious syphilis, and a 40 percent rise in new HIV diagnoses over three years in teens and young adults while other demographics began to decline - add urgency to a prevention campaign that seeks to use the new condom to spark conversations, particularly between parents and children, about safe sex.
"It is not an easy conversation to have. But it is an important conversation to have," Nutter said.
Moments earlier, he announced the winning wrapper, which garnered 43 percent of the 3,500 votes cast for five finalists. And he handed a wrapped condom to the artist, Michael Bodenberger, 23, of Northern Liberties.
Moments later, city health commissioner Donald F. Schwarz, unwrapped one.
"We need to show [teens] that there is something inside," said Schwarz, the deputy mayor for health and opportunity, trying his best to not look embarrassed.
"We need to show kids that we touch these things," he said, because otherwise "they will never believe that it is appropriate and normal to use them."