Static distribution

The key to this intervention Static distribution involves placing sexual health resources in locations and leaving them there for people to collect. However, the HIV prevention needs of each person are complex, so static distribution should be regarded as a foundation upon which other interventions can build.

What is the activity?

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

Static distribution involves placing free resources in locations 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 mailing lists is called interactive distribution, and is described elsewhere.

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.

The provision of free condoms increases the visibility of condoms and probably increases the acceptability of condom use among African people. In areas with a small or dispersed African community infrastructure, there will be a restricted number of settings for the static distribution of targeted resources. Taking a resource is not the same as using it, or using it effectively, in the case of condoms (for more on this, see our briefing on condom-related needs).

Where does it happen?

Static distribution can happen in almost any (usually permanent) location where African people congregate. These do not have to be exclusively African 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 African people. All interventions should aim to minimise the likelihood of further HIV-related stigma.

Settings include:

  • Commercial African venues such as shops, money transfer venues, restaurants, barbershops and hairdressers, clubs and pubs.
  • Places of worship (churches and mosques)serving African people.
  • African community centres, cultural groups and youth clubs.
  • Health service centres such as GUM and HIV clinics, GP surgeries, and HIV charities.

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 to understand the array of 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 (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.


The outcomes of static distribution depend crucially on what is being distributed but usually involve access to resources (most commonly condoms) and (basic) information in the form of leaflets. The list below offers some examples:

  • Access to quantities of free or affordable condoms (see associated needs here and here).
  • Knowing HIV exists, and understanding the harm it can cause (see associated needs).
  • Having a clearer understanding about how and why different sexual acts carry differing risks of HIV transmission (see associated needs).
  • Knowing how to correctly use male and female condoms, and feeling more confident introducing condoms with sexual partners (see associated needs).
  • Understanding the benefits of knowing their own HIV status (see associated needs here and here).
  • Increased consideration that the sex they have could risk HIV transmission (see associated needs).
  • Knowing more about other services that can help to meet a range of needs, including HIV prevention need (see associated needs).
  • Increased desire to contribute to the health and well being of their community (see associated needs).

Monitoring and evaluation

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 materials. 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, who is drawn to them, 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 July 2013

Case study

Local condom distribution

African Institute for Social Development (AISD)

AISD in Nottingham has sourced a sustained and reliable supply of male condoms and water-based lubricant through its local Primary Care Trust. AISD has set up distribution networks via local African businesses. AISD team members negotiate condom distribution with the venue owner, explaining that it can help to draw people into the premises, alongside the provision of written sexual health information. Once distribution is well established, business owners are encouraged to directly contact the NHS suppliers to re-stock. AISD undertakes regular checks on distribution locations, to check distribution is still occurring, and to help with any problems.

Case study

Tailored clinic distribution


Ensuring health promotion leaflets reach intended users is never easy. Agencies have traditionally organised bulk drop-offs of leaflets to organisations 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 leaflets to the people who needed them most.