Condoms From a Vending Machine
Medical Officer Dr. Yitades Gebre and Chair of the
Owners Association Howard Hamilton purchase condoms
from one of the two
condom machine erected at Caymanas Track in St. Catherine.
Students at the University of Technology (UTECH)
queued up at the newly installed condom-vending machine
to purchase Durex condoms. This dual-purpose vending
machine, which now only supplies condoms, was officially
launched on March 17, 2004.
"Put two coins in simultaneously, turn the knob
to the right and in your hand a condom," said
Joi Chambers of the Adolescent Reproductive Health
Unit, Ministry of Health who is leading this initiative.
"If you really need a condom you can get it yourself
without any obstacle. All you need is one 10-dollar
coin and a 20-dollar coin.
UTECH is one of four entities to be involved as suppliers
in a pilot project to test the viability of condom
vending machines. One will be installed at the University
of the West Indies (UWI), two at Caymanas Track Limited
and the other five at venues relevant to the tourism
According to Chambers, "the machines will make
condoms accessible for any target group or individual
facing obstacles. She led this pilot intervention
as part of her unit's approach to reduce the incidence
of adolescent risk behaviours. "Sexually active
adolescents are among those who are restricted in
purchasing or accessing condoms," Chambers stated.
She conducted research via the Internet and persuaded
the prevention and communication team of the National
HIV/STI Control Programme to invest in the multi-purpose
The idea has mushroomed into a pilot intervention
with partners the National AIDS Committee, Facey Commodity
Limited, UTECH, UWI, Caymanas Track Limited (CTL)
and the entities within the tourism sector.
The two condom machines installed at Caymanas Park
in St. Catherine will serve some five thousand men
who socialize at the facility and scores of groomsmen,
jockeys and other employees at the track.
The installation of the condom machines is part of
a broader intervention at Caymanas Park. The St. Catherine
Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) team will be
conducting educational sessions on the prevention
of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections,
condom use skills and other matters pertaining to
In his address at the launch of the CTL HIV Prevention
Project, Senior Medical Officer at the National HIV/STI
Control Programme, Dr. Yitades Gebre noted that condom
access must be increased for persons who do not plan
ahead for sexual liaisons, and also for those who
are not comfortable facing someone to get condoms.
"We must ensure that persons are sufficiently
reminded about the need to practice safer sex. We
must ensure that persons know how to use the condom
correctly and everytime. And we must ensure that condoms
are not difficult to get."
Dr. Gebre also expressed gratitude to all the entities
that have joined in partnership with the Ministry
of Health to improve condom access.