Safer Sex Olympics caps JASL week of activities
The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) hosted a week of activities from February 8 to 13 in recognition of Safer Sex Week. To raise awareness of the internationally recognised day, JASL did an islandwide tour partnering with gyms, pharmacies, hotels, universities and media houses to offer free testing for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and syphilis, as well as spread messages around safe sexual practices under a catchy theme, ‘Dweet Safe’.
Safer Sex Week was first observed in 1994 during the week of Valentine’s Day to encourage sexual partners to practise safer sex in light of the increase in risky sexual behaviour during this time. The message of safer sex seeks to minimise unhealthy sexual habits that may have life-altering repercussions.
Kandasi Walton-Levermore, executive director of JASL, shared that the message is not for individuals to not have sex, but instead to do so safely.
“At JASL, we want to remind everyone that using a condom is still one of the most effective ways of reducing your chance of contracting HIV or any STIs (sexually transmitted infections),” she said.
In an effort to reduce risky sexual practices, JASL deployed its team across Jamaica with a very clear-cut message; “dweet safe and use a condom every time!” In Kingston, JASL partnered with the gym, Alpha’s Iron Den, located on Shortwood Road, and provided free HIV and syphilis testing to its members, as well as persons in the surrounding environs (residents of Grants Pen, Mannings Hill Road and Barbican Road).
The entire island was also abuzz with activities, including testing taking place at the Ocean Coral Spring Hotel in Trelawny, Junction Square in St Elizabeth, Savanna-la-Mar market and in Negril Square.
The highlight of the week, however, took place in St Ann Square, where JASL hosted its first Safer Sex Olympics. The activity involved two teams competing in a series of fitness drills while decked out in condom outfits. The fitness challenges included push-ups, flipping tyres, jumping jacks and deadlifts.
Jerome Burke, communications coordinator at JASL, explained that the concept behind the Safer Sex Olympics was to symbolise that “hard work can be done in a condom”. He explained, “First, we want individuals to appreciate that condoms come in all sizes, so we need to move away from saying condoms cah fit mi! Also, regardless of the type of sex that you are having, when a condom is used correctly, it will endure and keep you protected and safe,” he said.
JASL, while ensuring that all COVID-19 protocols are observed, is committed to providing all Jamaicans with the correct information and tools to make safer sex choices. During Safer Sex Week, the organisation issued thousands of condoms and lubricants and provided HIV and syphilis screening for over 500 Jamaicans.
JASL wants to emphasise that HIV is still present and individuals should protect themselves and their loved ones by using a condom every time. Jamaicans are reminded to get tested often, every three months, in order to know their status. Condoms provide 99 per cent protection from HIV and other STIs. JASL provides HIV-related support services, free of cost, through its chapters located in Kingston, St Ann’s Bay and St James.