The Rochester school district will begin making condom availability free to high school students beginning next Monday, February 25.
The new condom availability program, which the Rochester school board approved last year, requires school nurses to distribute the condoms. Parents and guardians were notified by mail last October. Parents agree to allow their child to participate in the program, unless they sign and return an opt-out form.
Students must complete a health course that includes AIDS education as part of their regular high-school curriculum. And students who receive condoms must receive health guidance from the school nurse, which includes information on safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, and pregnancy prevention.
They must also learn how to safely use a condom.
Some parents strongly opposed the new program when it was presented last year. But school officials cited numerous studies that support implementing a condom availability program in high schools because it will reduce sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies.
Rochester’s teen birth rate is nearly double the national average. And a report released in 2010 showed that 45 percent of new HIV cases in Monroe County were among young adults under 25.