Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Safer Sex Week | Use a condom plus one - For everyone's protection

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2017 | 2:11 AM
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'Condom + Another Contraceptive = #UltimateProtection' is the theme for this year's Safer Sex Week - February 13-18. The aim is to push for the use of dual contraceptive in the fight against unwanted pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases (STDs).

Condoms are an effective method to protect against pregnancy, HIV and other STDs, but according to the National Family Planning Board Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency (NFPB-SRHA), it is always best to have a back-up method such as the Pill, injection or an intrauterine device.

The latest data in the 2016 UNAIDS Prevention Gap Report found that the highest increase of new HIV infections is within the 15-29 age group. In addition, one per cent of all live births in Jamaica are to adolescent girls, many of whom reported that their pregnancy was either mistimed or unwanted.

As a result, the NFPB-SRHA is pushing the use of dual method of contraceptive for all ages, and urging everyone to take responsibility for their own sexual and reproductive health.

 

ALWAYS IN FASHION

 

On a regional level, Dr Kevin Harvey, Caribbean regional director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), said for Safer Sex Week his organisation is putting the spotlight on the need to mainstream condom use to encourage persons to join the prevention efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other STDs by protecting themselves and their partners.

"Although we have made impressive gains in Jamaica and the Caribbean, our young people, particularly girls, remain at risk. We, therefore, will continue to encourage condom use, especially among this cohort, and stress that in order for us to solidify our gains and reduce the impact of this disease on the present and next generations, condoms have to always be in fashion and are the smart choice to make when engaging in sexual activity," Harvey explained.

AHF, the largest global AIDS organisation operating in 38 countries, will be working closely with Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) and the NFPB-SRHA to undertake activities and events across the island for Safer Sex Week geared at encouraging condom use and empowering persons to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health. This will include free condom distribution.

"Condoms are always in fashion, but they are not always available, affordable or attractive. Condoms are still the most effective way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as preventing unwanted pregnancies," stated Terri Ford, chief of global advocacy and policy for AHF.

 

SAFER SEX TIPS

 

- BYOC (bring your own condom). Don't rely on a partner to have condoms. Always have your own supply, and check the expiration dates before use.

- Examine genitalia. Look at your own and your partner's genital area for any changes, including sores, discharge or unusual odours.

- Get tested and treated for STDs. Regular testing will help to reduce the risk of transmitting STDs to others.

- Have one partner at a time. Multiple partners increase your chance of getting STDs.

- Don't use two condoms at once. Two lubricated condoms can get slippery against each other and can fall off, leaving you unprotected for both pregnancy and STDs. Use one condom plus another form of contraceptive.

- Stay sober. Drinking or using drugs lowers your ability to make good decisions and make safer choices. Staying sober will help you to keep a calm, level head at all times.

- Role-play safer-sex conversations with friends. Brainstorming strategies for dealing with difficult responses and practising what to say can help you to be more comfortable and assertive when the time comes to deal with it for real.

- Create your own list of limits and boundaries. And be firm about them with your partner

- Safer-sex practices. Make these a part of the sexual activity to increase the fun and pleasure. For example, put on male or female condoms together or for each other.

- Don't rush into higher-risk activities. First take your time with low- or no-risk activities, which can help build trust, comfort level and communication.

- Avoid pressure. Don't be forced into something you are not sure of or are uncomfortable doing. If your partner is forcing you to do something you do not want to do and won't take no for an answer, get out of that relationship as quickly as possible.

- No guilt. Don't feel bad or guilty about not wanting to do something. It is your right to refuse and to do only what you are comfortable doing.

 

This week's activities

 

WEDNESDAY, Feb 15

- Trinityville, St Thomas

Walk N Talk, testing

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

- Highgate, Annotto Bay, St Mary

Walk N Talk

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

- Montego Bay, St James

Vista Print

Testing and public education on HIV/ STI

3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb 16

- Discovery Bay, St Ann

Old Folly

Walk N Talk

10:00 am - 5:00 pm

- Freeport, St James

Secrets Hotel

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Friday, Feb 17

- May Pen, Clarendon

Old Police Station

Main Street

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

- Breadnut Hill, Ocho Rios, St Ann

Walk N Talk

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

- UWI Open Campus, St Ann

Partnering with UWI Harp

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

- Negril, Westmoreland

Negril Craft Market

Testing and community outreach

3-5 p.m.

Friday, Feb 17

- May Pen, Clarendon

Canaan Heights Community Centre

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

yourhealth@gleanerjm.com