An article published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections has said that condom distribution in prisons increases safer sex, but with no evidence of sex itself increasing.

Research focused on prisons in two states of Australia: New South Wales (NSW) where about 30,000 condoms are freely distributed a month; and Queensland where no condoms are distributed. Of the 2,018 male inmates who participated, both states have similar low levels of anal sex (3.3% and 3.6% in NSW and Queensland respectively) and unsurprisingly a far higher proportion used a condom in NSW than Queensland (the former with 56.8% usage and the latter 3.1%).

The paper concluded on the note that no evidence suggested condom provision increase consensual or non-consensual sex, but did encourage safer sex; “[c]ondoms should be made freely available to all prisoners as a basic human right.”

As concerns over condom usage are largely unfounded, it should be a high priority to ensure universal distribution in prisons, to reduce transmission of STIs including HIV. NAT, a charity aimed at changing society’s response to HIV, has declared that condom access in UK prisons is “variable and often poor”, something which needs to change.

If you have ever participated in any sexual activity with a partner and have not used a condom, whether due to lack of accessibility or otherwise, you should get tested for STIs. Better2Know provides a wide range of STI testing services at clinics across the UK or through a Home Sample Collection kit.

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