The C-Card is a London wide condom distribution scheme for under 25 year olds, commissioned and delivered by individual boroughs.
Once registered, users are given a handy card which they can use to pick up free condoms at any location with a C-Card logo.
In Hackney, 90,000 condoms were handed out to young residents via the scheme last year –more than a quarter of the total number distributed in the capital.
And there are now plans from April next year to offer the card to anyone aged over 25 in at risk groups, including black Africans and gay men.
Adrian Kelly, senior strategist for public health at Hackney and chair of the London C-Card scheme explained:
“The C-Card is a London-wide scheme, but boroughs can adapt it to suit their own communities.
“In Hackney, although we have a sizeable and growing population of gay men, we have very few gay social venues.
“That is why we are considering rolling the scheme out to 18 pharmacies that provide HIV and Hepatitis dry blood spot testing, so we can encourage testing while reinforcing a safer sex message.
“Pharmacies have always been a big part of our young people’s C-Card distribution scheme. They have good opening hours and offer a more convenient service model than GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) clinics.
“When you attend a GUM clinic, you have to book an appointment and take time off work to get tested. At a pharmacy, you can pick up your condoms, get tested and come back in a week to get your results.”
Oyster-like technology records when and where residents use their card. The anonymised data allows commissioners to monitor take-up and usage, and evaluate the effectiveness of the scheme.
The council is also planning to work with African community groups to promote the card at outreach events.
“There are a lot of small local community groups who serve a variety of African communities, made up of different nationalities and different backgrounds. We are trying to use those networks to deliver HIV prevention locally.
“The London C-card scheme is an exemplar of how locally commissioned and delivered services can be integrated and co-ordinated across London to improve access for the public, the quality of service delivery and the intelligence of commissioning.”