Philadelphia schools get free condom dispensers

Free condom dispensers are to be fitted in 22 high schools in Philadelphia in the US as part of efforts to reduce the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among students.

The machines will be installed near nurses' offices in schools where STI rates are particularly high, allowing staff to monitor access to the dispensers, as some parents have opted their children out of the scheme.

This follows on from a previous Philadelphia initiative that gave free condoms to students along with confidential STI tests.

Dr Donald Schwarz, deputy mayor for health and opportunity and health commissioner for Philadelphia, told the New York Daily News that the aim of the programme is to encourage condom usage among the 40 per cent of sexually active teenagers who do not currently use them.

He also countered claims that the scheme could promote sexual activity among students, stating: "There is no evidence in this country or in any other country that has studied this that making contraception or condoms available in any way increases the rate of sexual behaviour among young people."