Within three weeks, city officials in Washington, D.C. will start distributing 500,000 free female condoms throughout the city in convenience stores, high schools, and beauty salons in an effort to battle the three percent HIV rate in adults that city officials are calling a "major epidemic." D.C. will be the first U.S. city to offer free female condoms to the public.

The move is an official acknowledgment of the futility of relying solely on the use of male condoms, which have been distributed citywide for nearly a decade, to stem the District's epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Officials said they are turning to female condoms to give women more power to protect themselves from HIV and sexually transmitted diseases when their partners refuse to use protection.

This is a great idea that is long past due. Hopefully other cities will follow suit.