Background As observed in the rest of Quebec province, the number of STD declared to public health authorities in Estrie have been increasing in the last years. It has also been evaluated that condom use in this region is not as high as expected, particularly by young people. The Estrie region began a program in 2008 to favour free access to condoms for community organizations in contact with groups known as vulnerable to STDs. Purpose Describe and evaluate the implementation of the program after a period of 3 years. The regional program aim is to provide free condoms to vulnerable groups through distribution by community organizations in contact with these groups. This program is conducted among others to increase use of condoms and reduce STDs in Estrie. Recommendations resulting from evaluation will be use to improve the program.
Methods The process evaluation was conducted in two parts: 1. First part was conducted by analysing all relevant documents available at the public health department in charge. 2. Second part was conducted by interviewing all community organizations which participated in the program. Information was collected orally by two interviewers, using a standardised questionnaire.
Results The regional program is based on five components: 1) Annual launch (November) with a letter sent to all community organizations known to work with vulnerable groups. 2) Project submission by community organizations using a standardised form. 3) Distribution of condoms to community organizations. 4) Distribution of condoms to vulnerable groups by community organizations. 5) Annual report of activity by participating community organizations. Eleven community organizations had received condoms within the three years of the program. More than 100 000 condoms have been distributed in various projects. The regional budget allowed to the program has been able to covert the cost of all requested condoms, except for 1 year, where all projects were accepted, but with a somewhat reduced number of condoms per project. Participants were generally satisfied with the program. They confirmed its usefulness but proposed some modifications to it. Thirteen recommendations were made following evaluation. Some of them were about: 1) Favoured methods to approach community organizations. 2) Use more marketing so that more organizations know about the program. 3) Use of reminder for project submission and annual activity report. 3) Offering more kinds of condoms (especially large and without latex). 5) Offer education material to use in organizations along with condoms.
Conclusion Overall, the regional condom access program is considered useful and satisfying by the participating organizations. The recommendations resulting from evaluation will be useful to optimise the implementation of program in the future, adapt it to the needs and therefore increase its efficacy to reach its STDs reduction goals.