Brazilian machines deal safe sex

By U-Wire

While many American schools are pulling out vending machines, Brazil has decided to install more. But these vending machines aren’t home to Twinkies, Ho Hos or Snickers bars, and they don’t take money. These machines dish out condoms free of charge to teens — 45 percent of whom are already sexually active.

Brazil’s health ministry has been educating children about sex and AIDS as well as giving away free condoms for more than a decade, according to the Associated Press. The result? Brazil has successfully avoided an AIDS epidemic.

Wait a minute. Isn’t Brazil the world’s largest Roman Catholic country?

Well, yes it is, and America should take a cue from Brazil’s sex education efforts, because despite what many of us were taught, people DO have sex. Abstinence education just isn’t working, and the result is uninformed youth who don’t have the information to make good decisions.

So what do parents think about this? Although the Roman Catholic Church opposes the use of contraceptives and preaches abstinence until marriage, a study showed that two-thirds of Brazilian parents are happy that their kids are being educated and have access to free contraceptives. Well, what do you know. Perhaps this goes to show that it is possible to be religious AND practice safe sex.

Starting as early as 2008, vending machines will start appearing in schools, and based on their success, could spread to bars, clubs and 24-hour gas stations, according to the AP.

While the health benefits of safe sex are priceless, often condoms are too pricey for people to buy — 10 percent of students age 13 to 19 said that they don’t use condoms, because they’re too expensive or not handy.

And sometimes people are too embarrassed to go through the ordeal that often comes with buying condoms. There’s nothing more embarrassing than going into a crowded store and trying to buy condoms from a silently judgmental cashier. Even your best attempts to mask your purchase with chocolate, magazines, bleach and batteries are not enough to make it less awkward.

The Brazilian health ministry should be congratulated for this effective campaign and its efforts to educate people and keep kids safe. If only the United States would take a cue from Brazil and change its policy on education, we might reduce the number of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases contracted in young people. This goes to show you that not all vending machines are full of junk — some can save your life.