Scoring (Free Condoms) in the East Bay

Savvy readers of this blog know that there are few reasons to ever pay the full sticker price for a condom. Many clinics, community centers, and bars hand them out for free, and they sometimes stock a bigger variety of quality rubbers than your local pharmacy or corner store. In San Francisco, it sometimes seems like you can’t cross the street without getting handed a safer sex kit. But it’s more difficult to find free condoms in the East Bay, so we thought we’d show our East Bay readers some love by sharing some of our favorite places to score free condoms.

There are probably a lot of other places to get free condoms that are not on this list. If you have a hot tip, share it with us in the comments.

The Berkeley Free Clinic

Like their name says, everything at this volunteer-run clinic is free: HIV and STD tests, basic medical services, peer counseling, dental services, and, of course, condoms and lube. Check out their website or give them a call if you’re interested in their services. But for free condoms, come in any time the clinic is open. They keep condoms in all the exam rooms and on the front counter, and the volunteers would be happy to find a particular brand in storage if you don’t see it out. The clinic also distributes condoms through a mobile HIV testing project (Berkeley Builds Capacity) and a needle exchange program (NEED).

2339 Durant Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704; http://www.berkeleyfreeclinic.org/; 510-548-2570
Hours: Monday to Friday, 3 pm – 9 pm; Saturday, 11 am – 3 pm; Sunday, 4 pm – 8 pm
For mobile HIV testing locations, see
http://uhs.berkeley.edu/bbc/ or Twitter (@FollowTheRedVan)
For NEED hours and locations, visit
http://www.berkeleyneed.org/

Casa Segura

Casa Segura is Spanish for “safe house,” and the drop-in center is a safe space for anyone in the community to get off the street, shower, and access services, including HIV testing and referrals. They also distribute safer sex kits – with condoms, lube, and information – at the center and through their off-site needle exchange program.

5323 Foothill Blvd., Oakland, CA 94601; http://www.casasegura.org/; 510-434-0307
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am – 4 pm; Thursday, 12 noon – 4 pm, Friday, 10 am – 3 pm
For needle exchange hours and locations, visit
http://www.casasegura.org/needle-exchange.html

RYSE Center

The RYSE Center came out of the work of young Richmond activists concerned about violence in their community. The center is a safe space where young people can hang out, get involved in skills workshops, access academic support, get one-on-one counseling, and much more. RYSE also has free condoms. The center focuses on serving youth, 14 to 21 years old. But I’m told that even if you’re young only at heart, they won’t mind too much if you stop by to grab some condoms.

205 41st St., Richmond, CA 94805; http://www.rysecenter.org/; 510-374-3401
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 12 noon – 8 pm; Friday, 12 – 7 pm

T.R.A.C.Y. House

The T.R.A.C.Y. House, or Transgender Center and Resource for Youth, is a project of AIDS Project East Bay, a fantastic organization that works mostly with folks who are HIV-positive. The drop-in center just opened this year. Besides free condoms, T.R.A.C.Y. House offers HIV/STD testing, transition services, support groups, and other services for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.

1924 Franklin St., Suite 315, Oakland, CA 94612; http://www.apeb.org/; 510-663-3003
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 10 am – 7 pm; Friday 10 am – 12 midnight

Written by: Jobert Poblete