THE FOLLOWING IS A COPY OF THE ENTIRE ARTICLE APPEARING IN THE NY TIMES OF MAY 6, 2012 ON PAGE A22, COLS. 1-2 FYI
‘Condom Policing’ in New YorkNew York City has used two common-sense initiatives to drive down H.I.V. infection rates over the last 20 years. It has encouraged needle exchange programs for intravenous drug users and it has flooded the city with condoms, passing out more than 37 million last year alone.
The results are undeniable. According to the city, the number of newly diagnosed AIDS cases has dropped from about 12,700 in 1993 to just over 2,500 in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available. But as far back as the 1990s, public health groups and some state lawmakers have charged that the New York City police were undermining this effort by confiscating condoms from women suspected of prostitution and by using them as evidence against women charged with the offense.
A bill in the State Assembly that would bar the police from using condoms as evidence is likely to pass this year, Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, its main sponsor, said. It faces greater odds in the State Senate.
The Bloomberg administration should drop its opposition to the bill and heed a report by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which warns that “condom policing” discourages some sex workers from carrying condoms. This places them at greater risk of contracting or transmitting disease. The 2010 report surveyed 63 sex workers, and more than half said police officers had taken condoms away from them.
The city should instruct police not to seize condoms from women on the street. And the Legislature should bar the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution. Condoms are not only legal; they are crucial to the anti-AIDS effort.