A pilot project where five bars in Saskatoon are distributing free condoms is aimed at promoting responsible sexual activity, health officials say.

The condoms are available in washroom areas and are packaged with information about free testing for HIV.

Saskatoon has been noted as having one of the highest rates of HIV in Canada.

Promoting safe sex with condoms available for for free is new to the city.

Public health officials teamed up with the city's sexual health clinic and the Avenue Community Centre on the campaign.

Garnet Woloschuk, the centre's project director, said free condoms could help influence people who are making spur of the moment decisions.

"A lot of times people don't necessarily think: 'Well tonight I am going to have sex'," Woloschuk told CBC News. "It might be a spontaneous thing. So this will hopefully reduce any kind of spontaneous decisions that are not always the most healthiest decisions."

So far, the free protection seems to be popular with nightclub patrons.

In some places, like the 302 Lounge, people are taking away 250 condoms in a night from the dispensers.

"We can't keep them filled," lounge owner Skipp Anderson said. "We go through them, and fill them up half way through the night, and then they empty them again. As many as the Avenue Centre can give us, we give them out, because we always have so many people going through our bar."

While the free condom dispensers are in five bars for now, the project could expand if it proves worthwhile.

The goal is to bring down the city's high rate of HIV infections.

With files from CBC's Madeline Kotzer