The NWT is piloting a community condom access program in its latest step to combat a syphilis outbreak that has been ongoing since August 2019.
Two hundred free condom dispensers will be installed in public locations in the coming weeks in all of the territory’s communities, and will offer a “consistent supply” of condoms.
The Department of Health and Social Services is currently working with businesses, education bodies, and local governments to select locations for the dispensers.
“Free condoms will be available in public places people frequently visit, as well as places that are open outside of regular business hours,” the health department explained in a news release.
“Efforts will prioritize smaller communities with limited access to condoms for purchase.”
The health department said offering free condoms was “identified as a priority and a gap in current sexual health promotion.”
“While condom use does not guarantee full protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), men who regularly use condoms during their sexual encounters can significantly reduce the risk of STIs,” reminded the news release.
In September, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola said the syphilis outbreak was still “growing at an alarming rate,” and that the NWT’s syphilis rate is “consistently and significantly higher than the national average.”
Between the beginning of 2019 and April 2022, there was a 253-percent rise in syphilis cases across the NWT.