Proud to be Safer - The Condom Report
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation's Free Condom and lube Distribution Scheme for Gay and Bisexual Men has finally come of age as 2010 sees the services 16th birthday.
Free condoms and water based lube is an essential tool in the fight against the spread of HIV.
Director of Services, LGF
One of the key aims of the LGF's work for men who have sex with men is to reduce the incidence of HIV infection.
Since 1994, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) has been providing free Condoms and Lube (as well as information regarding condom use, STI and HIV prevention) across Greater Manchester for gay and bisexual men. It is one of the key aspects of the work that the LGF does. It is certainly one of the most visible and constant.
At Manchester Pride 2009 we asked 612 men who have sex with men for their opinions on the Condom & Lube Distribution Scheme for ongoing evaluation to make sure the scheme is meeting the needs of gay and bisexual men.
Their responses are contained in this 36 page document which also provides a history of the scheme and more information about The Lesbian & Gay Foundation's ongoing work around sexual health.
The last time The Lesbian & Gay Foundation evaluated a large scale community based condom and lube distribution scheme was in 2004 to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the scheme.
The report highlighted strong support for the scheme across the community and the public health and commercial sectors that the Lesbian & Gay Foundation work in partnership with. In 2004, 331 gay and bisexual men were interviewed about the service.
In 2004 96.8% of those asked reported that it was very easy or quite easy to get access to the Free Gay Men's Safer Sex Packs.This figure rises slightly to 97% for 2009.
In 2004 93.6% of all those interviewed, said it was important that there was a free condom scheme for gay and bisexual men.96% agreed in 2009
82.2% said that bars and clubs were the most popular places to pick up LGF's Safer Sex packs. This increased to 86% in 2009
29.2% said that they were sometimes embarrassed about picking up the packs.
In 2009 less people said they were embarrassed with a figure of 17%.
"One of the key aims of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation is to reduce the numbers of gay and bisexual men who are picking up and passing on HIV and tackling the spread of sexually transmitted infections. To do this it is essential that all men who have sex with men in the Greater Manchester area have easy access to a range of sexual health services, including testing, sexual health training, outreach and information. Free condoms and water based lube is an essential tool in the fight against the spread of HIV."
Rob Cookson, Director of Services, LGF
The Condom and lube Distribution Scheme is one of the longest running and highly regarded of its kind. Over 600,000 individual condoms and 600,000 sachets of water based lube are distributed every year.
Independent research carried out by SIGMA Research in 2006 highlighted the LGF's scheme as the 'most accessible of it's kind' in the country.
The scheme is promoted throughout over 80 venues. Wherever gay or bisexual men live in Greater Manchester they shouldn't be too far away from their nearest stockist of LGF's Free Gay Men's Safer Sex Packs.
All of the gay bars and clubs in Manchester's Gay village make the free condom and lube freely available. They can also be found at sexual health clinics, saunas, hotels and many other venues .
Today the LGF's Condom and lube Distribution Scheme is the largest in the country (outside of London) and is something that the organisation and the community at large are very proud of.
The Free Condom & Lube Distribution Scheme is funded by local Primary Care Trusts and Manchester Pride funds (raised through ticket sales) help to make sure that condoms and lube remain free and available throughout the year where they are needed most.