In an attempt to reduce the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies, the French President has decided to make condoms free for young people.
The new measure was announced on Thursday by Emanuel Macron during a health debate with young people and will take effect from 1 January. He praised the move as “small revolution for contraception.” Condoms will be available for free in pharmacies for people from 18 to 25 years old.
Earlier this year, the government made contraception free for all women under 25, some 3 million, expanding the already-established programme offering free contraception to women and girls aged 18 and younger. In order to combat the spread of AIDS and other STDs, condoms are already reimbursed if prescribed by a doctor or midwife.
On sexual education overall, Macron said: “We are not very good on this subject. The reality is very, very different from the theory. It’s an area where we need to much better educate our teachers.” In France, the STI rates have risen with 30% in 2020 and 2021, and tripled between 2017 and 2019.
During the health event which took place in Fontaine-le-Comte, a suburb of Poitiers in western France, Macron wore a facemask, following “health ministry guidelines.” “Faced with the new spread of the epidemic… I think it’s good to set an example because we don’t necessarily want to return to overall mandates,” he said.
Currently no mask mandates had been reintroduced, but the government weighs its response to a rise in Covid cases ahead of the holidays. As winter approaches, officials are advising people to get booster shots of the Covid vaccination and to wear masks in crowded spaces.