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Accessibility of condoms to young people in Manchester, UK
  1. Judith Sixsmith, PhD, Professor of Adult Social Care1,
  2. John Griffiths, BSc, MPhil, Lecturer in Psychology1,
  3. John Hughes, BSc, Research Assistant1,
  4. Joanne Wren, BSc, Research Assistant1,
  5. Steve Penfold, MA, MIHM, Deputy Programme Manager for Sexual Health and HIV2 and
  6. Hilary Natusch, MFFP, MRCGP, Consultant in Contraception and Reproductive Health Care3
  1. Division of Psychology and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
  2. Department of Health, London, UK
  3. Central Manchester Primary Healthcare Trust, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Judith Sixsmith, Division of Psychology and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hathersage Road, Manchester M13 0JA, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 161 247 2545. E-mail: J.Sixsmith{at}


Background and methodology Issues relevant to the accessibility of male condoms for young people in the Greater Manchester area (UK) were investigated, using semi-structured, in-depth interviews and a questionnaire survey.

Results Family planning clinics and condom vending machines (CVMs) were the most cited sources for condom acquisition. Young people's knowledge of where and when they could access condoms varied by age and gender. Suitable positioning of CVMs would need to take such variations into account when targeting potential customers. Levels of embarrassment about acquiring condoms also varied according to gender. The lifestyles of young people indicated the sorts of places in which CVMs might offer increased accessibility. For younger men and women this tended to involve low-cost, semi-private places such as local parks, school toilets and shopping malls/streets. Older men with higher spending power and increased confidence could access condoms through pub and club toilets and chemist shops.

Conclusions Accessible positioning of CVMs was related to the age, gender and lifestyle of the participants, and programmes to enhance accessibility should reflect this. Increased accessibility for younger groups, and especially women, needs to take into account issues of cost, confidence and embarrassment. For older groups, lifestyle choices indicated pubs and clubs as key locations for both men and women.

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