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condomadTechnically, the newly designed version of the NYC Condom has been available since Valentine's Day. I just got my hands on one yesterday when I got to hear from one of the people who helped design the campaign and the condoms who works at the NYC Health Department and there are some interesting stories behind it.It turns out that for the original NYC condom, they knew they wanted to do a subway inspired design. The head of the MTA agreed with this idea but then when the design was shown to them, someone decided that they didn't like it. So, the NYC DOH could only use the subway theme if they didn't actually use the route markers. So, if you've been wondering for the past year why the "N" is blue and the "C" is yellow when they should be switched - that's why. The MTA wouldn't let them look like actual route markers . Although I still really liked the design, that would have been amazing and just seems rather silly of the MTA.The silliness gets even weirder. The MTA wouldn't let them put up any advertisements in the subway that had the actual condom with the "route markers" on it. I'm still a little confused as to what they thought was going to happen; some poor tourist thinks the picture of the condom is a subway map? Highly unlikely.I had wondered why they decided to redesign the condom this year when the old design was so cute but when I heard that story I understood - if you can't fully advertise in the subway, why even bother? This year's design keeps the color scheme and even manages to sort-of keep the "route markers" but doesn't look at all like the subway. And yet, it does seem more modern. I like it.The guy who designed it also made a dispenser for it (the silver thing in the above picture). It has a little space at the bottom that is sort of triangular-shaped that you can pull a condom out of but condoms won't fall out of it. Apparently they weigh a ton which might need to be fixed but they're pretty big and can hold at least a thousand condoms.The health department is distributing about 200 of these dispensers to lots of different places (bodegas, hair salons, clinics, etc) and making sure that each location is stocked every week so they can see how they compare to other methods of condom distribution.They're also going to be surveying people in New York to see if they've not only seen the condoms but used one. Only a department of public health as big as New York would have the ability to really research this so it will be interesting to see if it's working. Apparently their distribution doubled (from 1.5 mil to 3 mil per month) after they redesigned the condom the first time. Does more distribution equal more use? Possibly. Does it increase safer sex and decrease STIs and unwanted pregnancies? Not necessarily. Here's why:Imagine that you're only getting free condoms from NYC as your condoms. You get them at your barbershop which you go to every couple of weeks. If you pick up 3 condoms for two weeks and have sex 8 times in those two weeks, there are still a lot of unprotected times. So, it can sometimes be hard to see population-level improvements in things like STIs and pregnancy because one unprotected event is enough to make someone a statistic, even though they might usually use protection much of the time.I'm looking forward to seeing the results of their study and watching the numbers to see if a major city-wide condom campaign can be effective. In the meantime - free condoms for everyone!