Pioneer with room for improvement

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Since April 1, the costs for certain contraceptives provided have been reimbursed 100 per cent and without age limit - with the exception of the condom. Although the latter is already available free of charge in several places, the costs for a contraceptive that protects against sexually transmitted infections should also be covered, according to individual interview partners.

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"Contraceptives in Luxembourg become free, " a headline that caused many positive reactions – and rightly so. In times of abortion bans and self-determination rights, Luxembourg wants to set an example. At the beginning of 2023, it was said that condoms could also be reimbursed, RTL and the Tageblatt, among others, had reported this. A good thing, especially with rising (energy) prices, and even better because condoms alone can protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A few weeks later, the date for the refund was set: April 1. However, there was a change: condoms were not be reimbursed then. The Ministry of Health says that free condoms are already available at several places. "The Ministry of Health provides condom vending machines for schools and is currently working on a concept to make the condoms available free of charge, " is one of the statements from the ministerial press office. So it seems that the authorities are not ready yet, be it for financial or organisational reasons.

Government programmes as a quicker (interim) solution

Carole Devaux is convinced that it is necessary to make free condoms available to a broad mass. She is a researcher in immunology and virology and has been chair of the Committee for the Surveillance of AIDS, Infectious Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Diseases since 2017, coordinating the activities of the 16-member group, especially the development and implementation of programmes to combat corresponding infections.

Why condoms are not, like the birth control pill, the contraceptive patch or the contraceptive ring, integrally reimbursed at or after purchase, Devaux could partly understand, she says. "We see countries like Germany, they haven't managed to reimburse it yet because it has to be covered by health insurance and I think that's the problem. Condoms are available in various places – supermarkets or petrol stations, for example, which complicates the issue of reimbursement. "If you want to make a quick change, it's easier to get it to people for free through distribution programmes funded directly by the Ministry of Health than to have it funded by Social Security and CNS. But it is a first step that has been taken."

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