The NYC Condom: Use and Acceptability of New York City's Branded Condom

In a high-profile media campaign launched on Feb. 14, 2007, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) introduced the "NYC Condom." This male condom -- a standard-size, lubricated Lifestyles brand -- was the first specially packaged condom unique to a municipality. The department distributed 5 million of the condoms to city organizations and businesses during the first month, and since has distributed an average of 3.4 million condoms each month. The researchers undertook the current study of sexually active New Yorkers "to measure awareness of and experience with the NYC Condom, and demand for and experience with other male condoms."

From July through September 2007, the researchers conducted a street intercept survey at seven large public events in the city where attendees were mainly persons of color and gay persons. City residents age 18 and older were eligible to participate. A time-space sampling methodology was used; respondents were offered a $4 transit card as an incentive.

In all, 933 people were approached; 464 answered screening questions; and 293 met all criteria for inclusion. Most participants (76 percent) had seen or heard of the condom, of whom 75 percent had picked one up. Among those who had acquired an NYC Condom, 68.5 percent had used it.

Respondents who had used the NYC Condom were asked to rate it on a scale of 1 (much worse than other male condoms) to 10 (much better). The resulting average rating was 6.55. Respondents were then asked what additional types of condoms they would like the department to provide. The most often named varieties were ultra-thin/extra-sensitive (22 percent), extra-strength (18 percent), and larger-size (14 percent).

"These results indicate that condom social marketing campaigns can successfully translate into condom use," the authors wrote. "Although this is the first large-scale condom distribution campaign conducted in a US city, other campaigns have documented that distributing free condoms promotes use."

"Data on use, acceptability, and preferences for various condom types can guide program planning and development," the authors concluded. "On the basis of these results, DOHMH began distributing alternative condoms in November 2008, including this study's most frequently named types: ultra-thin/extra-sensitive, extra-strength, and larger-size."