During a health debate with young people in Fontaine-leComte, in western France, President Emmanuel Macron announced condoms will be free for 18- to 25-year-olds in pharmacies across the country starting next year.
The announcement was made on 8 December and comes as part of a wider plan to reduce the spread sexual transmitted diseases (STDs), which have been on the rise in the past few years, and improve the quality of sexual education in the country.
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.President Emmanuel Macron
The president admitted that teachers need to be better trained on the subject of sex education in order to better prepare young people for real life experience because “the reality is very, very different from the theory”. In a tweet following the meeting, he also stated that this is only the beginning, as the government is “embarking on a small prevention revolution”.
STDs rates increased by a staggering 30% in France in 2020 and 2021, according to BBC, so the government is working on measures to curb that. Alongside the free condoms, emergency contraception for all women will also be free in pharmacies, while testing for all STDs, except HIV, will be free, even without a doctor’s prescription, for people under 26.
Condoms have been reimbursed by the French national healthcare system since 2018, but they had to be prescribed by a doctor or midwife, which has proven insufficient. Authorities are hoping that the easier and simpler access, along with better sex education will help reduce the STDs rates.
Part of the same plan, earlier this year France made birth control for all women under 26 available for free in pharmacies. The measure was already available for under 18-year-olds, but it was expanded so young women can still have access to birth control if they could not previously afford it.