Awareness Week Aims to Educate Students

In recognition of Valentine’s Day, health advocates across the United States rallied to support Condom Awareness Week.

Despite the rain, Student Health Services manned an information booth on Library Walk Tuesday to support sexual health awareness. Condoms and other forms of sexual protection were handed out to students.

Student Health Advocate Natalie Lamb spoke of the need for increased awareness of the dangers of unprotected sex.

“”The purpose of the awareness week is not to push condoms,”” Lamb said. “”People are already using them and we want them to be aware of the different options available. There are many misconceptions that need to be understood.””

Among the misconceptions noted by the advocates were misunderstandings of the correct functions of protection.

“”Many people don’t understand how to be safe,”” said Sara Working, a student health advocate and Marshall senior. “”For example, many condoms are made from lamb intestines which can be used as birth control but not for protection against sexually transmitted diseases such as the AIDS virus.””

Advocates cited other protection failures such as using two condoms, misconceiving oral sex as intrinsically safe from virus transmission and using improper lubricants, such as petroleum jelly or whipped cream, which dissolve the latex condom.

Working explained some incorrect assumptions about oral sex.

“”Many people think that oral sex is safe,”” Working said. “”The only requirement for the virus to exist is a warm, moist area.””

Working promoted the practice of using a dental dam, a protective latex covering for male and female genitalia, to prevent the transmission of disease during oral sex.

The table also offered games and trivia intended to educate people on sexual safety. Students gathered to play “”Pin the condom on the man.””

Students found the distribution of condoms and the games either amusing or embarrassing.

Health advocates aimed to erase these sentiments. Debbie Pino-Saballett, outreach coordinator for Student Health Services, spoke of the need for increased awareness without shame.

“”Many people find the table offensive,”” Pino-Saballett said. “”The goal is actually to desensitize. If we do some games with condoms, maybe when they need them they won’t be so offended.””

The group also wanted to stress the week as “”Latex Awareness Week”” as opposed to “”Condom Awareness Week,”” so as not to discriminate against relations in which latex protection takes a different form.

“”Latex should be used among lesbians as well,”” Pino-Saballett said.

Pino-Saballett has worked in sexual education since 1988. For the past three years, she has worked at UCSD at the Student Health Center educating college and high school students.

Health advocates hold on-campus information sessions by request. They also hold several assemblies at local high schools, informing high school seniors about sexually transmitted diseases.

Students observing the table applauded the efforts to bring awareness of sexual issues.

“”I think it’s a good idea that people need to learn about,”” said Roosevelt senior Andrew Culberson. “”College students should be confronted with these issues in a grown-up way.””

Other students spoke of the need for abstinence from sexual activity prior to marriage. Revelle senior Sandra Zipperer promoted abstinence on two grounds.

“”Abstinence is not only the ultimate protection but it also allows you to save the gift of sexuality for your lifetime partner,”” Zipperer said.

Working concurred with Zipperer on the superior safety of abstinence.

“”Abstinence is the only 100 percent form of protection,”” Working said.

Another event planned for this week is the play concerning female sexual issues, “”The Vagina Monologues.”” The Student Health Service Center has teamed up with the Women’s Center to bring “”The Vagina Monologues”” to UCSD. “”The Vagina Monologues”” are a series of interviews with women about their vaginas. Money raised by ticket sales will go to end violence against women. The event is extremely popular and is already sold out for the Feb. 17 performance.

Student Health advocates stressed the existence of a variety of student resources that are available. Latex and lubricants are available all year long for students. Sexual health information sessions go on every day of the week.

There is also help for diet and proper eating, including cholesterol screening and fitness awareness training. HIV tests are offered for a $10 lab fee. There is also a little-known Men’s Center to match the more popular Woman’s Center. Students are encouraged to come to Student Health with any questions concerning their personal health.

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