The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) this month started distributing cards to educate the community and clarify that the possession of condoms cannot be used as evidence of prostitution—a development that will help promote condom use and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. DC Appleseed is proud to have played a role in helping make this happen.
At the release of DC Appleseed’s Seventh Report Card on HIV/AIDS in the Nation’s Capital, questions arose about reports that the possession of more than three condoms could be used as evidence of prostitution. Mayor Vincent Gray emphasized the importance of condom distribution and availability and promised to have his Administration clarify District law and the policy of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
DC Appleseed followed up with the Mayor’s Office, convened a coalition of HIV/AIDS advocacy and service organizations, and coordinated a meeting with Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander. Joining the Deputy Mayor at the meeting were MPD Chief Cathy Lanier and Assistant Chief Peter Newsham, and HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration (HAHSTA) Senior Deputy Director Greg Pappas. We discussed concerns, clarified policies, and developed a strategy to educate the community and expand access to condoms.
As first steps in this strategy, MPD issued a police “roll call” bulletin and began distributing the cards. The card explains that people have the right to carry as many condoms as they want in the District of Columbia. Further, it provides information on how to make complaints of police misconduct.