Looking for free condoms?
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment wants to have your back. The state agency is paying $15,000 to advertise a website called CondomFinder.org on various marquees operated by Denver Arts & Venues, including the digital display in front of the high-profile Denver Performing Arts Complex on Speer Boulevard.
CondomFinder.org is exactly what it sounds like: a website that tells you where to find free condoms.
The website was developed by Cares Community Health, a nonprofit community health center in Sacramento, California, that program manager Jon Benorden describes as "a one-stop shop for anyone who is HIV positive." When the organization realized there was no comprehensive list of local places to get free condoms, it went about creating one, he says.
Using Google Maps, the organization's PR firm developed a website and a smartphone app that allows users to find locations near them that offer free condoms and lubricant packages "so they're not necessarily having to purchase condoms or walk into an HIV clinic, because people are still stigmatized by it," Benorden says. Users simply enter their ZIP Code and the website generates a list of locations.
After debuting CondomFinder.org in Sacramento, Benorden decided to bring the concept to the U.S. Conference on AIDS last year. He set up a booth and encouraged health advocates from other states to list their locations and promote the website at home. Representatives from CDPHE were at the conference and liked the idea.
"We think it's a great tool," says Melanie Mattson, the section chief for the sexually transmitted infection, HIV and viral hepatitis section of CDPHE.
In fact, CDPHE thinks it's so great that it's paying to advertise CondomFinder.org on various Denver Arts & Venues marquees around town, as well as on banners at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. "If people don't know it's out there, it doesn't do us much good," Mattson explains. The state agency encourages all of the organizations it contracts with to list their locations; any place that wants to be on CondomFinder.org -- whether it be a clinic, a bar or a barbershop -- can request to add its location via the website.
"There's a bail bonds office on there, which kind of made me smile," Mattson says.
Below, check out a screenshot of Denver's locations. The number inside the red circle indicates how many locations; to see the individual locations, you must zoom in.
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