Boston, MA. – Public health advocates challenged CVS/pharmacy Thursday over its policy of keeping condoms in locked cases in CVS stores located in communities of color, which are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. In a recent survey of over 30 CVS stores in the City of Boston, the only CVS stores found with locked condoms were in Dorchester, a neighborhood with a majority of residents of color. Similar surveys showed that in a number of cities across the country the retail giant was at least three times more likely to lock condoms in communities of color than in majority white areas.
Community leaders outside a CVS/pharmacy in Dorchester called the practice discriminatory and a threat to public health. Similar actions took place Thursday in New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Taken together, hundreds of Valentine cards, signed by CVS/pharmacy shoppers and in an online campaign at CureCVSNow.org, ask the company to reverse its policy and unlock the condoms.
Responding to the community’s call for change, some CVS/pharmacy locations removed the locking display cases.
Across the country, community leaders called CVS’s practice of locking condom cases disproportionately in minority communities particularly troubling, pointing to studies that show HIV/AIDS is the number one killer of black American women between the ages of 25 and 34, and that the rate of new HIV infections among Latinos is three times the rate of whites.
«This shameful practice of locking condoms in minority communities is unconscionable and needs to stop immediately. CVS’s relationship in the community needs to be one of empowerment not capitalization and exploitation,» said Minister Franklin Hobbes of Healing Our Land.
Public health advocates are also criticizing CVS for locked condom cases, saying it is creating a barrier which could decrease condom use.
«Constricting condom access for high risk populations is counter to the purpose of condoms,» said Tony Fernandez, a representative of the Gay & Lesbian Labor Activist Alliance (GALLAN). «This practice endangers lives.»
Walgreens, CVS’s largest national competitor, has a policy against locking up condoms at any of its stores.
Representatives from Project Right, The Union of Minority Neighborhoods, and Healing Our Land joined Cure CVS in speaking out against CVS’s policy.
For more information visit www.CureCVSNow.org
Cure CVS is an initiative by Change to Win and partner organizations to reform the drugstore industry, starting with CVS, the country’s leading provider of prescription drugs and largest drugstore chain. By joining concerned citizen groups with the six million members of Change to Win unions, Cure CVS aims to ensure that CVS provides equal access across all communities and income levels to its stores and services, offers fair and accurate prices, provides quality products and services, protects customers’ privacy and puts quality pharmacy care first.