Officials in Dallas County, Texas, Lift Condom Distribution Ban
January 15, 2009
In a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the Commissioners Court in Dallas County, Texas, lifted a 13-year-old ban on condom distribution, authorizing the county health department to distribute no-cost condoms in an effort to curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, the Dallas Morning News reports (Levinthal, Dallas Morning News, 1/14). According to state officials, Dallas County had the highest HIV prevalence in Texas in 2007 and 2006, which caused concern among some officials about the effects of the condom ban in the county. The Commissioners Court in 1995 passed regulations banning the distribution of condoms and needle sterilization kits to at-risk people in local communities, saying these practices encouraged illegal and immoral behavior. Under the ban, Dallas County was the only public health agency in Texas to ban condoms in education and prevention programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/23/08).
Related Opinion Piece
Ragland notes that Dallas County had the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence statewide in 2006 and 2007, adding that more than 13,500 people are living with the disease in the county -- a 35% increase in the number of HIV-positive people over the last five years. According to Ragland, new cases among people ages 13 to 24 have "nearly tripled over the last five years." He writes that it is "clear that we can no longer rest on the noble notion that faithful and consistent proselytizing alone will lead Dallas -- or the nation, for that matter -- out of this darkness. We need more practical tools." He continues, "[C]hanging deep-rooted behaviors -- an ongoing, epic battle whose end is nowhere in sight -- is only part of the solution to this health crisis." It is "vitally incumbent" that health officials do what they can to control the spread of HIV, a disease "that poses a very tangible threat," he writes. Ragland adds, "Dallas County officials took an important step in that direction" by lifting the ban (Ragland, Dallas Morning News, 1/13).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.