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France will make condoms free for everyone aged 25 and under starting next year, a move aimed at curbing the rise of sexually transmitted infections in the country, Business Insider reported.
President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision in a Twitter video, saying it was part of a larger health initiative meant to improve public access to healthcare, including contraception and sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening.
It comes as France has seen a spike in STIs in recent years, especially gonorrhea and chlamydia. In the past two years, the country recorded a 30 percent national increase in STI rates.
Younger people have been particularly affected, which officials suggest could be mainly because of a lack of knowledge about prevention.
The plan would initially apply only to people between the ages of 18 to 25, but the president expanded it to include minors following an outcry from activists and the public.
Since 2018, the French government has reimbursed the cost of condoms to people who buy them in a pharmacy and have a prescription. The policy’s expansion is an effort to make more individuals aware of their right to access birth control measures.
Women up to the age of 25 can already access free birth control as of this year, in an effort to ensure that individuals can avoid undesired pregnancy.