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Philadelphia Rolls Out Condom Dispensers in High Schools as STD Case Rise

Update Date: Dec 24, 2012 12:27 PM EST

Philadelphia is rolling out condom dispensers at 22 city high schools in an attempt to address an alarming public health crisis, according to,

There is "an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in adolescents in Philadelphia," said Donald Schwartz, deputy mayor for health and opportunity.

In an e-mail to nurses, Philadelphia School District officials said that the dispensers would be installed "just inside the doorway near the entrance to your office" and that nurses were not to be charged with managing access.

Locals consider the numbers to represent an alarming public health crisis, as teens account for a fourth of new STD cases.

It's a pilot designed to address "an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease in adolescents in Philadelphia," Schwarz added. Since April 2011, the city has given away about four million condoms, and now, STD rates are falling.

"This is a serious public health matter," said Mayor Michael Nutter.  "I support the policy strongly. This is a serious public health matter."

Any student can get condoms and parents who don't want their children to receive them can sign a form.

"Opt-out letters are to be maintained by the school office," Assistant Superintendent Dennis W. Creedon wrote. "Students are to honor the wishes of their parents. If a student disrespects their guardian's directive, that is an issue of the home."

According to the Philadelphia Government page, there is an STD crisis in the area. Statistics show that 15 percent of students surveyed said they were never taught about HIV or AIDS in school, even though the curriculum requires a semester of Health Education. Meanwhile, 37 percent said they had not used a condom during their most recent intercourse and 15 percent had sexual intercourse for the first time before they were 13 years old.

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