By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 25, 2009 ( – President Obama earlier this month appointed New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a strong proponent of contraceptive-based HIV prevention, as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The appointment, which Obama announced May 15, does not require Senate confirmation.

Frieden, who received degrees in Medicine and Public Health from Columbia University, in 2007 headed up a massive media campaign featuring NYC-brand condoms, tens of millions of which have since been handed out to New Yorkers.

The “Get Some NYC Condom” campaign says on its site that the New York Department of Health “set a national precedent with its NYC Condom campaign, a Lifestyles condom in a chic, branded Gotham wrapper aimed at catching the public’s eye and increasing free condom awareness and use in NYC.” 

Six months into the campaign, the department announced it was averaging 3 million condoms distributed per month – double the rate recorded in 2005.

“Take the worry of disease and pregnancy out of your sex life – using condoms can make sex more relaxed and enjoyable,” said the department’s website. 

According to a 2007 New York Post article, then-archbishop of New York Cardinal Edward Egan and Brooklyn bishop Nicholas DiMarzio condemned the campaign, saying they were particularly disturbed that the “NYC” condoms were freely handed out by city workers to young teens on the streets.

“The decision of the City of New York to distribute [26] million free condoms to the public – and minors as well, according to news reports – is tragic and misguided,” said the bishops in a joint statement.  “Our political leaders fail to protect the moral tone of our community when they encourage inappropriate sexual activity by blanketing our neighborhoods with condoms.”

In 2008, Morality in Media president Robert Peters criticized Frieden’s campaign for its blaringly public approbation of condom use.

“Just as most Americans do not want to view endless ads for ‘erectile dysfunction’ products on TV, so most New Yorkers do not want to see endless ads for condomized promiscuity on TV and in the subway cars they and their children must ride,” said Peters. 


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