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Tell CVS: Don't Restrict Access to Condoms!

May 20, 2009

As people who care about HIV, we know it is vital to make prevention tools as accessible as possible.

CHAMP commends the leading pharmacy chain of Walgreens for their policy of never locking up condoms in any of their stores.

But, meanwhile, CVS -- which has over 6800 stores -- has made no such pledge.

While they have taken a positive next step by unlocking the condoms in all their stores in Boston and Philadelphia, there's no national pledge to make condoms equally accessible to all their customers.

For this reason, we're asking your organization to sign on to a letter to CVS. We are joining groups around the country who are asking CVS to end their practice of locking up condoms, which has been most prevalent in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Please endorse the letter by Friday, May 29. The full text is below.


Laura, Josh, Julie, Vanessa, Waheedah and all the rest of us at CHAMP

Full Text of the Letter

Mr. Tom Ryan
C.E.O., CVS Caremark Corporation
One CVS Drive
Woonsocket, RI 02895

Dear Mr. Ryan,

Our organization is part of a national coalition of community organizations, health care educators and advocates. We believe CVS Caremark Corporation's practice of locking up condoms, especially in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, is both short-sighted and dangerous.

Health and consumer advocates coast to coast are demonstrating against CVS's practices that stigmatize condoms and condom users and calling on CVS to unlock condoms in all communities. Coverage of our actions in the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Daily News, Boston Globe, Miami Herald and other newspapers as well as from National Public Radio and dozens of television news broadcasts has elevated awareness of CVS's disrespect for communities of color and fueled a growing demand for corporate reform.

We are encouraged that your corporation has taken a positive first step by unlocking condoms in its Philadelphia and Boston stores, after community demonstrations in those cities. However, it is crucial that this same access be provided to consumers in all cities and in all communities.

We urge CVS to put the health of our communities first and adopt a written policy that ensures all condoms are permanently unlocked in all communities across the country, regardless of race.

Please consider the following staggering statistics, evidence of the public health crisis our communities face:

  • Nationwide, HIV/AIDS is the No. 1 killer of black American women between 25 and 34. And rates (of infection) for Hispanic women nationally are four times those of white women, while rates for black women are 15 times those of white women.
  • Over the past decade, gay men and other men who have sex with men face rising rates of HIV infection, with the highest rates in young black gay and bisexual men. Nearly half -- 46% -- of black gay and bisexual men are believed to already be infected.
  • A sexually active teenager who doesn't use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within one year, and approximately 750,000 teens become pregnant each year.
  • Every year 3 million teens acquire an STD.

Clearly we cannot afford to stigmatize or limit access to condoms, creating unnecessary barriers to safe-sex practices. Your closest competitor, Walgreens, has a policy against locking up condoms in any of its stores. We hope that you will follow Walgreens' lead in promoting better health practices in all communities.

We stand with communities across the country in saying "Cure CVS Now!" We will continue to keep a watchful eye on CVS and its role in providing care to our communities.

Click here to endorse the letter. Please reply by Friday, May 29.

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This article was provided by Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
Ten Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Condom Basics
More News on Condoms and HIV

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Terri (NYC) Thu., Jul. 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm UTC
The CVS in my neighborhood has condoms available. They are NOT behind a locked case.
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Comment by: Deborah Paley (Brooklyn, New York) Wed., Jun. 24, 2009 at 8:07 pm UTC
Please make it more comfortable for adolescents and others to obtain condoms without feeling embarassed.
I am a midwife and see too many cases of HIV and teen pregnancies. I will have to find a new Drug Store if you do not change your policies of keeping condoms open on shelves for all that want to buy them across the United States. thank you.
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Comment by: Alan (Leicester NC) Thu., Jun. 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm UTC
I go out of my way to patronize CVS because of good contraceptive policies, maybe I should stop.
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Comment by: Judith Ford (Hollywood, FL) Wed., Jun. 17, 2009 at 1:50 pm UTC
Your condoms should be on a shelf available to all who want to purchase them.
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Comment by: Kurt Steinbach (Memphis, TN) Tue., Jun. 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm UTC
It sounds like CVS is trying to prevent teens from having sex; however, putting condoms behind a locked case will only ensure that teens have unprotected sex, thereby increasing the spread of STDs and unplanned pregnancies. This will inevitably result in an increase in abortions.
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Comment by: Sandra Reuther (Brainerd, MN) Tue., Jun. 16, 2009 at 11:41 am UTC
You will not see me in a CVS Pharmacy until this policy changes. This is a ridiculous policy and takes me back to the 60's when the catholic pharmacists wouldn't sell condoms and my husband, a pharmacist had them in a drawer in the back.
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Comment by: Richard Byrne (New York, NY) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 4:27 am UTC
I live in Harlem, where one of the chief causes for the spread of HIV is secret "down low" intimate sexual relations between males. Please take the condoms out of the locked cases!
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