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January 04, 2000 05:15pm
West Hollywood expands condom giveaways
Source: Reuters

(WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA) - The city council of West Hollywood, an enclave known for its concentration of nightspots catering to gay men, has expanded a voluntary condom giveaway program to help curb the spread of AIDS.

By a vote of 5-0 Monday night, the City Council agreed to purchase an additional 50,000 condoms a year and accept a donation of 20,000 more for free distribution by nightclubs, coffee houses and adult businesses with a predominantly gay clientele.

That brings the total number of condoms supplied under the city-backed program to 320,000 a year, up from 250,000 approved six months ago, said Scott Svonkin, deputy to Councilman Paul Koretz, a co-sponsor of the measure.

The council took no action on a competing proposal that would have made distribution of city-supplied condoms mandatory for certain establishments.

Many West Hollywood nightclubs have been giving away condoms on their own for the past eight years as a way of promoting safe sex, Svonkin said.

The council also endorsed a plan to monitor participation in the $26,000 giveaway program, which is aimed at more than 30 establishments in the city, a hub of nightclubs and bars catering to both gay and "straight" crowds.

The town, nestled between Los Angeles and the neighboring enclave of Beverly Hills, suffers from a disproportionately high rate of AIDS infection. Although West Hollywood represents less than one-half of 1 percent of Los Angeles County's population, its residents account for 7 percent of the county's AIDS cases, Svonkin said.

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