AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 2169–2171 | Cite as

Free Condom Distribution: What We Don’t Know May Hurt Us

  • K. R. O’ReillyEmail author
  • V. A. Fonner
  • C. E. Kennedy
  • M. D. Sweat

The provision of commodities is an important element of nearly all public health programs. In HIV programs, commodities can be very expensive, like antiretroviral drugs for treatment or prevention, or they can be relatively cheap, like male condoms. Because of the contrast between incomes in developing countries and the costs of life-saving medications like antiretroviral drugs, recipients are often provided expensive medications free of all charge to increase access and encourage adherence. Condoms, on the other hand, are equally essential for prevention of HIV infection, are relatively inexpensive and are often judged to be affordable for users, even in the most resource-constrained settings. Condoms are often sold at a subsidized price through social marketing programs in an effort to make them even more affordable and, in theory, more valued and likely to be used since they require payment.

Recently, a debate over the relative merit of free versus subsidized distribution of...


Condoms Free Systematic review 


  1. 1.
    Hoffman V, Barret C, Just D. Do free goods stick to poor households? Experimental evidence on insecticide-treated bednets. World Dev. 2009;37(3):607–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    de Oliveira MA, Wolkon A, Krishnamurthy R, Erskine M, Crenshaw DP, Roberts J, Saúte F. Ownership and usage of insecticide-treated bed nets after free distribution via a voucher system in two provinces of Mozambique. Malar J. 2010;4(9):222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hightower A, Kiptui R, Manya A, Wolkon A, Vanden Eng JL, Hamel M, Noor A, Sharif SK, Buluma R, Vulule J, Laserson K, Slutsker L, Akhwale W. Bed net ownership in Kenya: the impact of 3.4 million free bed nets. Malar J. 2010;24(9):183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Beer N, Ali AS, de Savigny D, Al-Mafazy AW, Ramsan M, Abass AK, Omari RS, Björkman A, Källander K. System effectiveness of a targeted free mass distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Malar J. 2010;18(9):173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kim JY. Poverty, health and the human future. Presented at the 66th World Health Assembly. Geneva, Switzerland, 21 May 2013.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Med. 2009;6:e1000097.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sweat MD, Denison J, Kennedy C, Tedrow V, O’Reilly K. Effects of condom social marketing on condom use in developing countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis: 1990–2010. Bull World Health Org. 2012;90:613–22.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ariely D. Predictably irrational: the hidden forces that shape our decisions. New York: HarperCollins; 2008.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Harvey PD. The impact of condom prices on sales in social marketing programs. Stud Fam Plann. 1994;25(1):52–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. R. O’Reilly
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. A. Fonner
    • 2
  • C. E. Kennedy
    • 2
  • M. D. Sweat
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations