Condom-in-Tree Program Reducing Sexual Disease Among Australian Aborigines

Wanting to encourage safe sex within isolated Aboriginal communities, Australian health officials have come up with a novel idea: hanging condoms in trees. An indigenous health service said Thursday that the initiative had reduced STDs among Aborigines, many of whom gather in the shade of trees to socialize. Patrick Davies from the Nindilingarri cultural health service at Fitzroy Crossing said the town once had the highest rate of STDs in the remote Kimberley mountains region. But, partly thanks to the condom-tree program, infection rates are now falling. "Some people come in for a drink, then take the condoms with them back home to their dry [alcohol-free] communities. That's a good thing because it's creating awareness," said Davies. The condoms dangle in canisters made from plastic piping slung from wire hooks in the trees. Davies said when the program began, virtually no Aborigines were getting condoms from the only two outlets in town. Now the valley's 3,500 people are using up to 3,000 condoms a month, he said.

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