Condoms under lock and key at Bakersfield stores

A CVS Pharmacy location in Bakersfield, Calif., where condoms are locked behind glass, but a selection of smaller condom boxes are freely accessible, is seen May 9, 2018. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Convenience stores around Bakersfield are giving shoppers a serious inconvenience, and it's a concern for public health.

At select Walmart, CVS and other stores that sell condoms, managers are now keeping boxes of condoms under lock and key to prevent shoplifters from taking them. Customers need to ask an employee for assistance.

While some CVS Pharmacy locations in Bakersfield lock condoms behind glass, they always have a few that are unlocked and freely accessible.

In a statement, CVS Health said:

"Because we recognize the importance from a health care perspective to provide access to condoms, in any store with a secured condom display, we also maintain a selection of condoms that are unlocked and accessible for customers to purchase without asking for assistance from store employees."

Rite Aid also offers unrestricted access to condoms at its stores. The Fresno Bee reports that other stores, such as select Vons and Albertsons, also keep condoms locked behind glass, but there's no consistent or traceable way to know which ones do this in each area.

Shoppers may be too embarrassed to ask an employee to unlock the glass case to purchase condoms, shopper Sabrina Johnson said.

"It might prevent people from using protection, because they don't want to ask to get those type of things," Johnson said. "I think it should just be available like soap and everything else so it can prevent STDs and things of that nature."

Sexually transmitted diseases are a major concern in Kern County, where the rates are among the highest in California. Teens and young adults are the age group where STDs are most prevalent.

Kern County Public Health Services warns that the inconvenience factor of asking for assistance shouldn't deter people from using condoms.

There were 9,827 reported STD cases in Kern County last year. In California, Kern ranks third worst for its chlamydia rate and fourth worst for gonorrhea. Last year, five people died from congenital syphilis in Kern County, according to Public Health.

"We know that condom use when used correctly and consistently can prevent many of our STD and unwanted pregnancies," Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson said.

Buying condoms online, going to a medical clinic or a Planned Parenthood are other ways consumers can get contraception other than asking for help at a store. also ships condoms to homes across California for free.

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