Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are more common than people realize. Since 2010, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) reported a 44% increase in Chlamydia cases; of these 70% are from individuals 24 years of age or younger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- There are 20 million new STD cases in the U.S. every year.
- The medical costs for these new cases are $16 billion.
- Adding the new cases each year with existing infections, there are an estimated 110 million total STDs among Americans.
- Experts estimate 75% or more of all sexually active people will have a Human Papillomavirus infection at some point in their lives.
Staff members from the OCDPH sexual health education program, family planning clinic, STD division and communications developed the Wear One program. This is a free condom distribution program aimed at reducing the number of Ottawa County STD cases, particularly chlamydia, and unplanned pregnancies. The team identified the barriers to condom use and found cost, embarrassment, judgment and limited access to condoms were the primary issues.
OCDPH partnered with several agencies and retailers in Ottawa County to provide them with free condoms for their customers, clients and visitors. Condom pick up locations are in Holland, Grand Haven, Hudsonville, Grand Valley State University and nearby retailers. Complete list of locations at www.miottawa.org/sexualhealth.
“Working with businesses, higher educational institutions and several other community partners, we’ve distributed more than 50,000 condoms throughout Ottawa County since the launch of the Wear One program one year ago,” said Heather Alberda, BA, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator at OCDPH.