Where do adolescents get their condoms?

Jonathan Klein, Christopher Rossbach, Harpreet Nijher, Mark Geist, Karen Wilson, Susan Cohn, David Siegel, Michael Weitzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To determine where adolescents obtain their condoms; the availability and accessibility of condoms; condom availability in relationship to different sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates; and the availability of safer sex information in places where condoms are sold. Methods: We conducted a random digit-dialed telephone survey of 259 14-19-year-old adolescents in Monroe County, New York. Self-reported health services use, knowledge and use of confidential services, and where adolescents obtained or intended to obtain condoms were assessed. Research assistants visited all retail establishments in five areas of similar population size with gonorrhea rates from 887 to 12,427 per 100,000 adolescents to assess how available and accessible condoms were in each store. Perceived access and actual condom availability and accessibility were compared using Chi-square and Student's t-tests. Results: Trained interviewers dialed 11,800 numbers in 1993, identifying 4449 (40%) households among 11,065 numbers reached successfully. Of these, 393 (8.8%) had eligible adolescents and 259 (66%) completed interviews. Most adolescents reported obtaining, or planning to obtain, condoms in stores rather than from free health care settings. Adolescents who have used condoms more often reported having obtained them without cost than having purchased them.Condoms were available at 101 (83%) of 122 stores identified. All drug stores and 75% of supermarkets sold condoms and displayed them openly. Most small grocery stores also sold condoms (92%), but were less likely to openly display them. No stores displayed or provided safer sex information. Areas with higher STD rates had more stores (p < .01), and more stores that sold condoms (p < .01). There was no difference in condom cost by area. Conclusions: Many adolescents obtain their condoms in retail stores. Condom accessibility varied by store type and area STD rate. Increasing condom visibility in private grocery stores may increase the accessibility of condoms to adolescents in areas with highest STD rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-193
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Adolescents
  • Condoms
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevention
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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