11-year-olds in US Can Now Order Condoms Via Mail

New York, April 15 (IANS) Children as young as 11 in Philadelphia city in the US can now order free condoms via mail in a new campaign launched to reduce sexually transmitted diseases.

The programme, launched by the department of health, features a website that shows facts on diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS, as well as instructions for young girls on how to use female condoms, Fox News reports.

"Playing it safe just got easier. If you live in Philadelphia and are between the ages of 11 and 19, you can now have condoms mailed directly to you for FREE. Maybe it's difficult for you to stop by one of our sites to pick up condoms. Or maybe you're just shy or feeling weird about picking up condoms," the website TakeControlPhilly.org reads.

"Every girl is different. Figure out what position works for you. You can stand with one foot on a chair, sit on the edge of a chair, lie down, squat, or for fun, have your partner help you out," it says.

The website that asks visitors to the city to use condoms "each and every time", also provides an option where users can order free male condoms to be mailed directly to their homes.

Recent national data shows that Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of STDs among comparable cities, with African-Americans and adolescents being disproportionately affected, officials said.

A youth survey found that 37 percent of sexually active high school students in Philadelphia do not use condoms during sexual encounters.

While giving away condoms to children as young as 11 might "seem a little young" to Kevin Burns, executive director of Action AIDS, he said the free condom programme was appropriate.

"If children are old enough to be having sex, which they are in that age range (ages 11-19), they need to have protection," he said.

One parent in Philadelphia, however, told the Philadelphia Daily News that sending condoms to 11-year-old kids - perhaps without their parents' knowledge - was not very responsible.

"As a parent, I am personally outraged. What's the back story on this campaign? What is it telling our youth? I get the sex-education thing for kids in schools, but mail-order condoms for 11-year-olds? It's shocking to me," the unnamed parent said.


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