by Claire Taylor
Mark Clune1, Efejiro Ashano1, Vanessa Apea1, Tony Proom2
1Preventx, 2East Sussex County Council
A paucity in condom access from sexual health services was one of the many impacts of the COVID pandemic. In response, a South East England service implemented a free-to-user enhanced condom distribution scheme integrated with their online postal self-sampling service. A condom kit (12 condoms and lube) was offered to all those aged over 25 after requesting their STI screen. In addition, an independent online scheme was implemented in which those aged 16–24 could request condoms directly.
After requesting, the kit was then dispatched by post. We report the findings from its inception in September 2021.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of individual users of the service between September 2021 and January 2023, stratifying by age, ethnicity, sexuality and indices of multiple deprivation (IMD). We also compared chlamydia positivity amongst those users that requested a condom kit to those that did not.
6044 orders were made over the 17-month period, with a 500% increase in monthly requests (92 in September 2021 versus 588 in January 2023). Most requests were amongst those aged 20–24 (1286) and those of white ethnicity (85.7%).
83.6% of orders were from heterosexuals, with females requesting 65.4%. 14% of orders were made by gay and bi-sexual individuals. 25% of orders were placed by those in the 2 most deprived populations (IMD 1 – 12.6% and IMD 2 – 12.3%).
Subsequent chlamydia positivity rate amongst those who requested condoms was significantly lower than the positivity rate amongst those who did not (4.71% versus 5.38%, p<0.05).
6044 orders were made over the 17-month period, with a 500% increase in monthly requests (92) Implementing an online condom distribution scheme is a feasible way of increasing condom access, particularly among young people and offers clear potential in reducing chlamydia positivity rates amongst users.
The high requests by women is an important reminder that condoms should be offered to all genders. Supplementary qualitative data providing behavioural insights is required to further optimise the scheme.