Young people of France, rejoice—you're about to start the new year with free condoms. President Emmanuel Macron has announced that, starting Jan. 1, anyone up to and including 25 years of age will be able to find the rubber contraceptive device at no charge in pharmacies across the nation. ABC News notes that the initiative comes as sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in France, and as inflation continues to take a bite out of citizens' paychecks.
When Macron first revealed the plan on Thursday, he said the free condoms would be available only to young adults 18 to 25. But after activists and others pushed back, noting that minors having sex were also at risk of catching STDs, Macron shifted the age limit, allowing minors to take advantage of the program, too. "Let's do it," he said in a video message posted Friday, calling it a "small revolution for prevention," per the New York Times. Girls and women 25 and under were already able to obtain free birth control in France, but men were excluded, and it was unclear how the rule applied to transgender or nonbinary people, per ABC.
And for the past four years, citizen have also been able to get reimbursed by France's health system for their condom purchases, but you need to have bought them with a prescription, and most people aren't aware of the program. Now, with this latest move, more sexually active young people should be able to access contraception in France, which has seen a spike in STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea over the past few years. Macron wrote in a separate tweet that other measures to be introduced include free emergency contraception in pharmacies for all women, as well as free testing for STDs (with the exception of HIV) for those under the age of 26. (Read more condoms stories.)