Throughout the United States, rates of sexually transmitted infection continue to rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 2013 to 2017, syphilis rates nearly doubled, chlamydia remained at record highs, and gonorrhea cases increased by 67%. The CDC estimates that 1.1 million people in the US have HIV, but 1 in 7 people who are infected don’t know it. These national trends have been mirrored in Montana, with gonorrhea rates at a 30-year high in 2018, and syphilis cases having increased four-fold in recent years.
There’s good news, though! Condoms, when used correctly, are highly effective at preventing many STIs such as HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. They also help prevent pregnancy, and provide protection for anal, vaginal, and oral sex. While they do not provide full protection from STIs that can be spread from skin-to-skin contact (like genital herpes, syphilis and HPV), they can help reduce the risk of transmission. A combination of condoms and getting tested regularly for STIs (aka getting tested after each new partner and before you plan to stop using condoms with a monogamous partner), you’re taking the right steps to keep yourself healthy.
Bridgercare distributed 35,000 free condoms across south central Montana in 2019 as part of this prevention strategy. Where can they be tracked down?
Bozeman Tattoo Alley
Gallatin Valley Food Bank
Sacks Thrift Store
East Main Medical Clinic
MSU Women’s Center
Second Wind Sports
East Main Ink
Spectators Bar and Grill
Spruce and Honey Waxing Parlor
Adam & Eve’s
Big Sky Food Bank
Southwest Chemical Dependency Center
Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sharp objects and direct sunlight. Don’t keep them in your car, pocket or purse because heat can damage condoms over time. Before use, be sure to feel for the air bubble in the condom packaging, as condoms that are too old or damaged won’t have an air bubble.
You can stop by Bridgercare anytime we’re open (Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm) if you’d like to pick up some condoms here! There are condoms in the waiting room that are up for grabs, or they can be purchased at $2 for 10. If have further questions or are interested in Bridgercare’s education programs that include information on proper condom use, you can reach Education Director Cami Armijo-Grover at email@example.com.