OPH reveals 2017 condom wrapper design

Ottawa Public Health's 2017 condom wrapper designs

It may be a little bit cheeky, but Ottawa Public Health says it's about getting people talking.

OPH has revealed which designs for new condom wrappers will be handed out next year, as part of celebrations around Canada's 150th birthday.

It was a hard choice. The designs varied from a smiling maple leaf suggesting, “Get tested! Why not, eh?” to the phrase “Protect your…” next to a picture of a rooster with a sly grin.

OPH tweeted a Twitter poll about the subject, which had thousands of votes.

Vote Early.
Vote often.
For your favourite condom design for 2017https://t.co/9gOOvzgd4S

— Ottawa Public Health (@ottawahealth) December 12, 2016

On Thursday, the most popular designs were announced.

Thank You #Ottawa to the 5k+ plus residents that took the time to vote.
The condom design w the most votes: “The Rooster” & “‘The Dog” pic.twitter.com/5Cf80TX7RU

— Ottawa Public Health (@ottawahealth) December 22, 2016

Program Officer with the OPH Healthy Sexuality and Risk Reduction Unit Christiane Bouchard had told CFRA, the project wasn’t just for the sake of having a 2017 condom.

“Over the last couple of years, all we’ve seen is an increase in the rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia and even a little bit in HIV also,” she says. “So, we have concerns people are not necessarily practicing safer sex and we want to heighten awareness about the fact that protection is a good method and it’s something you should be doing.”

Bouchard adds another part of this project is simply to get people talking about condoms.

“To this day, people are still uncomfortable when you talk about condoms, and they don’t talk about safer sex practices, and maybe this is a springboard to having that conversation.”

OPH plans to have the new wrappers ready for the spring.

“Just in time for all the summer activities,” Bouchard says. “We’re aware that there will be a lot of parties, and we usually try to attend these events and talk about condoms and getting tested. For a lot of people, at least 50%, there are no symptoms when you have some of these STIs, so getting tested is the only way to know.”

Ottawa Public Health hands out an average of 650,000 condoms a year with the help of over 100 community partners, and through an online portal for youth known as SexItSmart.ca.

"The high majority of cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia is in youth aged 15-29 years old and they might have a lot of barriers to accessing condoms," says Bouchard. "Most of our condom distribution partners are in the downtown core, so if you live in Stittsville or Kanata or Orléans it may be a bit more difficult, so we can discreetly mail them to you."

And that, Bouchard suggests, is just good economics.

“A branded condom costs us about eight cents per condom," Bouchard says. "Compare that to the cost of your time at the clinic, paying for the tests, the nurses, the doctors, and if an STI not detected or treated, the consequences are even more serious. The cost is huge, when you think that for a nickel or eight cents you can avoid that.”

Ottawa is not the only city to do something like this. Earlier this year, Toronto’s health agency announced the winner of a condom wrapper design contest, a TTC-themed wrapper that said “Transfers are for buses only.”

condomTO design

Other popular designs included plays on Toronto’s nickname The 6ix, with phrases like “Safe 6IX” and “The 6EX.”