Condoms can prevent STDs.
By Sarayuth Pinthong
Media Club Reporter
Ah – picture it.
The mood is perfect. Everything is going right. You look at your partner and then it hits you: You have no protection.
What do you do?
Really, it’s no game
Central Penn students participated in a sex-ed Jeopardy parody game during a recent common hour near the end of fall term with guest speaker Kelly J. Gainor of Planned Parenthood of Central Pennsylvania, in the Capital BlueCross Theatre, to raise awareness about HIV infection and AIDS, for World AIDS Day.
As lead coordinator of the event, Central Penn Counselor Megan Cline reached out to Planned Parenthood for support to help educate students about safe sex to prevent infection with HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
“My goal in having Planned Parenthood come to campus was to get the word out,” Cline said. “Planned Parenthood is a great organization that does amazing work for people of all ages.”
Gainor, senior community health educator at Planned Parenthood, spoke on topics that allowed students the opportunity to explore their knowledge of sexually transmitted disease (STD), preventive measures against STDs, including HIV infection and AIDS.
Gainor talked about and answered students’ questions about the proper use of contraceptives and different methods of exposure to HIV, and concluded the presentation with a demonstration of how to apply a condom properly.
About 40 students attended the session.
Watch the accompanying video from Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C., for instructions on how to use a condom properly.
Use self-assessment and common sense
Take a second and ask yourself whether you know how to apply a condom correctly, what personal female contraceptive choices are available or what other barrier devices to prevent STDs, and protect yourself or partner against contracting HIV, may be available.
And here’s a sobering thought: When was the last time you were tested for STDs, if ever?
“The most important thing is getting checked,” Gainor said. “Because of the current medication available, the sooner you know, the longer you have to live (with HIV) – period.”
Getting checked is just the beginning. Knowing the ins and outs of self-protection is also important.
Gainor informed her audience on how to properly inspect a condom before use. She also explained the various ways of transmitting STDs and, of course, the precautions necessary to protect oneself when engaging in sexual activities.
“Certainly, in a college campus, having safe sex and making safe sexual decisions, is something that’s very important,” Central Penn Activities Director Adrienne Thoman said. “It’s going to have ramifications for the rest of your life.”
It happens – a lot!
Becoming exposed to STDs is still common. Taking a serious stance on the matter is just as important as using protection. Despite what you may believe, exposure to and infection with these ailments can happen to you.
“I don’t think they believe that they can catch it so easily,” said Lester McMillan, an entrepreneurship major. “I beg to differ. It’s quick to get ‘burned.’ I feel it’s just best ‘to wrap it up.’”
“Students seem to be aware and understanding of general knowledge about sex,” Cline said. “But they don’t always seem to accept the reality of if you’re having unprotected sex, your chances of unplanned pregnancies and/or transmission of sexually transmitted infections increases significantly.”
At Central Penn, condoms are available in Thoman’s office and in the athletics office, in The Underground, and in the Residence Life Office, in Bollinger Hall. They are also available in many stores, particularly drugstores, such as the Rite Aid in the Enola Plaza, and in most physicians’ offices.
Gainor explained that World AIDS Day, which was observed on Nov. 30, is to raise awareness of HIV and the to make people aware that it’s still a problem
“We want people to be aware, so they can get checked and maybe protect themselves,” Gainor said. “Getting tested is something I wish people would take more seriously.”
So, think back to the scenario at the beginning of this article. What would you do? Would you continue, and hope for the best? Or would you take a stance and protect yourself and your partner?
So – what would you do?
It’s all about getting tested, protecting yourself and not getting HIV or another sexually transmitted disease in the first place.
Planned Parenthood helps people plan parenthood through education and medical services. For more information go to www.plannedparenthood.org
The resources below provide STD testing, and other health and sexual/reproductive health services.
To comment on this story, or to submit a story idea, contact the editors at KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.edu.
Edited by media club co-adviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi.