Check it out: Some sporty protection

The City of Toronto focuses on sports (just in time for Pan Am) for its second "CondomTO" campaign.

torotno-branded-condomsFor the second year in a row, Toronto Public Health has launched a line of branded condoms as part of its “CondomTO” initiative, this time hoping to reach Toronto residents and visitors who might have sports on the brain.

This year, the city has made 288,000 branded condoms with images of two pairs of athletic shoes suggestively intertwined or clothes tossed aside, some of which include the slogan “Let The Games Begin” — with the “O” in “TO” stylized to include someone on a bike or in a wheelchair racing by.

Although the packaging and program bear no official affiliation with Pan Am or Parapan Am, the images and timing will surely capitalize on one of the biggest sporting events the city has ever hosted. More than 7,000 athletes are expected to be in Toronto for the games, in addition to thousands of fans. STIs are a large concern for public health officials at international sporting events like Pan Am or the Olympics, where the distribution of free condoms have been a regular occurrence since the 1992 games.

“As we welcome thousands of visitors and athletes to the city this summer, we want to encourage healthy and safer sex,”  Toronto city councillor Joe Mihevc, chair of the Board of Health, said in a press release.

Beyond the city’s impending wave of visitors, approximately 15,000 cases of STIs are reported in Toronto every year, and a recent survey by the board found that only 60% of sexually active high school students in the city used a condom or other barrier-based form of protection.

Roughly 100,000 of the branded condoms will be given to athletes as part of their welcome packages to the city and made available in the athlete’s village. Starting next week, the rest will be distributed at locations throughout the city, such as Planned Parenthood, The 519 LGBT community centre’s Pride House, The AIDS Committee of Toronto and various community health clinics.

This year’s campaign kicked off yesterday with an event at Yonge-Dundas Square, featuring street artists in a public graffiti art battle, while Public Health employees, dressed as referees, handed out condoms to spectators.

Toronto Public Health also created branded condoms last summer during World Pride, with cheeky packaging that pointed out the innuendo in the city’s street names, like Wood, Coxwell and Cummer.