Free NYC-branded condoms aim to increase HIV/AIDS awareness

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to launch a new campaign that will keep city residents enjoying healthier nights while saving a few lives.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to launch a new campaign that will keep city residents enjoying healthier nights while saving a few lives.

The city is unveiling its own brand of NYC condoms that will be available in a variety of colors, each color representing an NYC subway line, says a spokesperson from Ansell, the company producing the condoms.

The millions of free condoms will be distributed to thwart the spread of HIV/AIDS in Gotham, where the disease is more prevalent than anywhere else in the US. HIV/AIDS is the third-leading killer in New York City for those younger than 65, behind heart disease and cancer, according to the Department of Health.

The condoms will be the latest addition to variety of NYC-branded products that already exist - such as NYPD, FDNY, and New York Sanitation Department apparel.

Why does it matter?

"Like most branding campaigns, it's always about differentiation, recognition, and identification," says Melissa Aronczyk, adjunct professor in New York University's Department of Culture and Communication. "With New York doing something like this, it is going set it apart by showing that New York cares about AIDS and cares about its citizens."

Aronczyk adds that the condom initiative would only add to the NYC brand that has developed through marketing and culture. "The prevalence of Sex and the City connects to the whole lifestyle that many New Yorkers have and to the idea that people are open-minded, liberal-minded, and welcoming of a campaign like this."


Five facts:

1 On June 8, Mayor Bloomberg combined NYC's Big Events, NYC Marketing, and NYC & Co. to make one central office to handle branding and tourism efforts for the city with the aim of attracting 50 million visitors by 2015.

2 New York City spends about $720,000 annually on condoms for free distribution in the five boroughs. Since the advent of the online ordering system 18 months ago, the city has given away more than 1.5 million condoms.

3 The NYC Health Department believes a sound HIV awareness policy will lead to a 50% increase in HIV-positive people learning about their affliction before the onset of AIDS.

4 The United States Agency for International Development funds a social marketing effort called AIDSMark to promote the use of condoms and safe-sex practices throughout the world.

5 An August report noted that the next step for New York City would be evaluating whether increased access to condoms has led to increased use. This effort is to be facilitated by the launch of the branded condom design.

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