Above photo: National Condom Day was created in the 1980s to educate people about how condoms can help prevent the spread of HIV. Courtesy of Pixabay
By Delaney Brown
National Condom Day, an annual campaign by the Sexual Health Quarters, falls on Valentine’s Day each year.
The holiday was initially created in the 1980s to educate people about how condoms can help prevent the spread of HIV, a deadly immunodeficiency disease that kills thousands of Americans each year.
Now, the day serves as a reminder to engage in safe and consensual sexual practices.
Though college students have heard about the importance of using condoms to prevent pregnancy and disease since middle school, implementation of the advice is still spotty.
According the National College Health Assessment conducted in spring 2017, nearly 53 percent of USF St. Petersburg students used a male condom to prevent pregnancy the last time they had vaginal intercourse.
When asked how often they’d used a condom or other protective barriers such as a female condom or dental dam in the last 30 days, only 2.3 percent of students said always for oral sex, 12.5 percent for vaginal intercourse and 2.5 percent for anal intercourse.
“Obviously we want those numbers to say 100%,” said Victoria Beltran, Wellness Center education coordinator.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur each year. The majority of this number consists of people between the ages of 15-24, whom account for nearly 50 percent of all those infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, the three most common STIs, are all preventable through the use of condoms.
“At the Wellness Center, we understand that sexuality is a normal part of who we are as individuals. As you go through college, you will learn more about who you are, what you prefer, how your body works, and what you want from any type of relationship,” Beltran said.
The Wellness Center offers condoms, latex-free varieties and female condoms for free year-round. In recognition of National Condom Day, you can spot members of the Wellness Center on Harborwalk, handing out safe sex supplies that may come in handy for Valentine’s Day plans.