Static distribution

The key to this intervention Static distribution involves placing sexual health resources (usually condoms and written interventions) in locations and leaving them there for people to collect - it is a means of delivery for other interventions and a foundation upon which other interventions can build.

What is the activity?

Sexual health resources are items which help to meet HIV prevention and sexual health need, including written interventions such as small media, and condoms and water-based lubricant.

Static distribution involves placing free resources in locations where the target group congregate and leaving them there for people to take. For instance, leaflet racks and condom dispensers can be used to provide users with easily identifiable locations where they can get written resources and condoms. Posters may also be used to alert potential users about available resources. Distribution occurring hand-to-hand or via (e)mailing lists is called interactive distribution, and is described separately.

Strengths and limitations

Static distribution requires no physical contact with the target population, meaning the time and skill required are limited. Those who are too shy to request resources may be better able to collect items for themselves. However, the lack of interaction will leave other needs unmet and taking a resource is not the same as using it, or using it effectively, in the case of condoms..

The provision of free condoms increases the visibility of condoms and probably increases the acceptability of condom use among MSM. In areas with a small or widely dispersed MSM community infrastructure, there will be a restricted number of settings for the static distribution of resources.

Where does it happen?

Static distribution can happen in almost any (usually permanent) location where MSM congregate. These do not have to be exclusively 'gay' spaces, but some thought needs to go into the likely outcomes of the provision of targeted resources in generic settings. Tailoring resources (ensuring they are appropriate and appealing to those for whom they are designed) and targeting resources (ensuring they are located in places where the population for whom they are intended are most likely to see and take them) should increase uptake of interventions for specific sub-populations of MSM. All interventions should aim to minimise the likelihood of further HIV-related stigma.

Settings include:

  • Commercial gay venues such as bars and clubs, shops, restaurants and cafes, or sex venues such as saunas.
  • Community spaces, cultural or social groups and youth clubs.
  • Health service centres such as sexual health and HIV clinics, GP surgeries, and HIV organisations.

Frequently delivered alongside ...

Issues to consider

Establishing and maintaining a strong relationship with venue owners is central to the success of static distribution. Early approaches require the skills of health promoters to help owners understand the benefits associated with such schemes. Established static distribution sites can be maintained by less skilled workers or volunteers.

Wastage is a key issue. Venue staff may discard written resources, other materials may crowd them out, and some will be spoilt. These problems can be minimised by undertaking regular stock checks, ensuring there is a specified fixture (such as a rack or dispenser) to hold resources, and maintaining a strong relationship with venue owners and employees.

Keeping stock in order requires organisation. Re-stocking routines need to be clarified with venues in advance. When re-stocking, workers may require: monitoring forms, written resources, condoms, lubricant, cellotape, blue tac etc.

In some places, installation and maintenance of areas for static distribution are part of "venue codes of practice" developed between commercial venues and health organisations. Such codes lay-out terms and conditions for the types of information that can be distributed and how the area should be maintained.

Aims and outcomes

The outcomes of static distribution depend crucially on what is being distributed. Generally the outcomes include increased knowledge and awareness and possession of resources such as condoms and written information. The bulk of all static distribution is of free condoms and lubricant and small media - in the case of small media the outcome of the static distribution will depend on the content and aims of the small media. The list below offers examples of outcomes depending on the items being distributed:

  1. Increased motivation to avoid HIV exposure and transmission (see associated choice and some of the basic information, opportunities and resources and skills needed).

  2. Increased access to appropriate condoms and water-based lubricant by ensuring men know where to access them and have the opportunities and resources to do so (see associated choices such as using condoms for anal intercourse and aims such as knowing the benefits of condom use and having the resources and opportunities to access them and the skills to use them).

Monitoring and evaluation

In terms of outcomes and impact, very little priority is given to evaluation of distribution interventions. In practice, judging the uptake and success of static distribution often goes no further than monitoring how many resources leave the office, yet this tells agencies very little about what happens to resources. Further information can be gained by monitoring the popularity of particular resources in different venues by keeping track of how often they require re-stocking.

A relatively simple way of assessing the utility of static distribution is time-sampled observation. Simply watching the resources at a selected venue for an hour at a different time every day will give insight into how they are used, and how the intervention might be improved.

Surveys can be used to assess awareness of the products and means of accessing them within the target population and people’s preferences for different locations for distribution.

Page last updated: 17 June 2013

Case study

Leaflet racks in gay venues

Trade Sexual Health, operates a static distribution scheme using designer, branded leaflet racks sited in gay venues across Leicester. Men can help themselves to printed information from racks that are re-stocked on a weekly basis by a worker or trained volunteer. To ensure the racks look interesting, stock is rotated regularly. Trade branding on the rack links the local project to the national materials displayed. The racks ensure that men have access to written HIV prevention material and provides Trade workers and volunteers with an opportunity to maintain contact with venue managers and staff and to deliver free condom packs (also containing “hot topic” written materials in credit card size) into venues.

Case study

Tailored clinic distribution

Ensuring health promotion leaflets reach their intended users is never easy. Agencies have traditionally organised bulk deliveries to organisations and social venues but these can be wasteful. Often resources are not displayed or distributed, or more are delivered than needed. To overcome these difficulties NAM developed a tailored distribution scheme for GUM (HIV) clinics. By talking to staff they learned how each clinic used written materials. This, together with a closely monitored ordering system, allows clinics to order according to real-time demand, ensuring a more targeted flow of up-to-date small media.

Case study

Safer Sex packs

The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) safer sex pack distribution scheme distributes over 1.12 million condoms and sachets of lubricant to over 80 venues across Greater Manchester every year. The packs are available in gay pubs and clubs as well as community settings and sexual health clinics. Loose condoms and lube are provided in gay saunas. Funding is provided by the ten NHS trusts across Greater Manchester in addition to a contribution from Manchester Pride. Evaluation demonstrated the importance of, and support for the scheme.The evaluation report - Proud to be Safe - provides a history of the scheme and key evaluation findings. Key to this success is the partnership between LGF, the commercial sector and public health sector.