‘National Condom Day’ promotes awareness

By Janice McDuffee

Consumers of America stroll through their local drug stores, malls or floral shops and see shades of red and pink in the shape of hearts or flowers. Even the little teddy bears holding the “I love you” pillows have been on display during the past few weeks, a sure sign of February’s approach.

The more sultry advertisements show sales on lingerie, wine and other products made to enhance the more intimate side of love as the perfect gift for one’s valentine.

It seems no coincidence that Valentine’s Day is National Condom Day, the week of Valentine’s Day is National Condom Week and February itself is National Condom Month, according to the National Health Observances calendar. The calendar, created annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, enables individuals to take advantage of the latest health promotion or disease prevention information available about the topic of a health observance, improve their own health or the health of family members and volunteer to support locally sponsored events.

At first thought, deeming February National Condom Month may sound like an advertisement for a sexy 28 days.

Caitlin Megginson, freshman in LAS, unfamiliar with this observance of February, initially reacted with a laugh. She said calling February National Condom Month puts a stigma on the month.

“It makes it like, it’s National Condom Month, let’s get some condoms and have a bunch of sex,” she said.

She also thought that the title added to the commercialization of Valentine’s Day and further instills the need in people to have a romantic partner this time of year. However, she also said that if it raises awareness of sexual health, it is a better alternative to only teaching abstinence.

“If it actually does something, then it sounds like a good idea,” she said.

The purpose of making February National Condom Month is so, “Health Professionals, teachers, community groups and others can use these special times to sponsor health promotion events, stimulate awareness of health risks or focus on disease prevention,” according to the National Health Information Center’s Web site.

McKinley Health Center, 1109 S. Lincoln Ave., and Campus Recreation Center East, or CRCE, 1102 W. Gregory Dr., are using Valentine’s Day to team up for a sexual health fair led by Sexual Health Peers, where information and free condoms will be made available for the students.

The event’s planner and head of the wellness department at CRCE, Brittany Haugen, senior in AHS, said that overall wellness is something CRCE promotes throughout the year. February is also their It’s All About Me Month, and sexual health is one of the six dimensions of wellness they will promote.

“I always advocate having sex safely and not contracting or spreading diseases,” she said.

Kimberly Rice, sexual health educator and peer education coordinator for McKinley, said she feels these events are especially important for college students because 70 percent of students are sexually active. She also said that researchers have repeatedly found that those who have only been subjected to abstinence only sex education are more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection or have a unplanned pregnancy because they do not use protection.

“In studies, abstinence only education, including virginity pledges only delayed the onset of intercourse by about six months,” she said. “When those youth did finally have sex, they were less likely to use protection then those students who got comprehensive sex education.”

While recognizing that some choose not to have sex, Rice believes those who are active need the proper information to ensure their sexual health and should attend the sexual health fair on Feb. 13.