Advocates throughout Kansas join more than 200 groups nationwide in a petition urging drug store chain CVS Caremark Corp. to stop its practice of keeping condoms locked in cases, especially in low-income neighborhoods with high numbers of minorities, The Kansas City Star reports. The national petition is sponsored by Change to Win, a labor coalition.

The Star visited 19 CVS stores in the Kansas City areas and found that nine keep the prophylactics locked away. Most of the condoms in cases are 12-packs that cost $9 to $12. All nine of these stores were in neighborhoods where about 26 percent of the population is below the poverty level. Eight of the nine stores in neighborhoods with African-American populations higher than 12.3 percent locked up their condoms.

African Americans account for about half of HIV infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Reverend Eric Williams from the Calvary Temple Baptist Church’s Community Outreach Network in Kansas City expressed concern that placing condoms in locked cases can discourage people from using them. Though Calvary upholds the ideal of abstinence until marriage, it signed the petition in hopes that increased access to condoms could stop the spread of the virus.

“When the house is on fire, you do everything you can to put the fire out,” Williams said.

CVS said condoms are locked up to deter shoplifting in stores where large numbers of condoms were stolen, adding that smaller packs with three condoms are available in unlocked displays.The Star found these smaller displays in all but two of the stores with condoms locked in cases.