Background: In 2011, Philadelphia launched an extensive adolescent STD/HIV prevention program, Take Control Philly, in response to the high rates of STDs amongst that population. This program included a youth-centric website, expansion of condom distribution efforts, and a Philadelphia-branded Freedom Condom. Six Facebook advertisement campaigns, two traditional media campaigns, and over 60 community events were strategies used to promote this campaign. During 2012, condoms were made available in select Philadelphia high schools. Baseline assessment of the program was completed in summer 2011 and follow-up assessment was completed in summer 2013 to assess program effectiveness and reach.
Methods: Youth ages 13-24 were interviewed using a standardized survey during summer 2013. Participants were recruited based on predetermined criteria relevant to the study objectives. 2011 baseline assessment data served as comparison for the 2013 study.
Results: 301 individuals ages 13-24 were interviewed for this assessment. Results showed 82% of all individuals reported being sexually active with no change since baseline. Knowledge about where to get free condoms increased from 58% to 70% since baseline. 24% of individuals reported getting their last free condom from high school (70% increase) and 9% received it from a commercial business (800% increase). 97% of youth were aware of at least one aspect of the campaign, 82% had seen the Freedom Condom, and 69% had received a Freedom Condom (increases of 83%, 355%, and 900%, respectively). 68% of sexually active individuals reported condom use at last sexual encounter with no significant change from baseline.
Conclusions: Comparison of data over time shows teens continue to engage in risky sexual activity, and efforts to expand access and awareness of free condoms have been successful. Community-wide condom distribution expansion is a promising approach for addressing STDs in youth. Using multiple strategies for increasing program awareness is necessary for reaching Philadelphia youth.