People can stop by their closest PPCO health centers during the week of Valentine’s Day to enter a “guess the number of condoms in the jar” contest and to pick up free condoms, information, candy and “Just Wear It” bumper stickers.
Health centers are located in Norman, Edmond, Midwest City, south Oklahoma City, and central Oklahoma City. The group will also be working with area radio stations to spread the word and reward listeners with special prizes.
“Since 1978, the week of Valentine’s Day has been marked as National Condom Week,” says Terry Dennison, Director of Education for Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma. “It is a terrific opportunity to educate people about the importance of prevention and responsible condom use, and to address the misinformation about condoms that might discourage their use.”
“We want people to feel that it’s okay to talk about condoms, and that condom use can be the norm rather than the exception,” says Dennison. “The more comfortable people become, the better equipped they will be to make safer decisions about their sexual health and behavior.”
The latex condom is among the most popular and effective ways that sexually active people reduce the risks of unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. But according to Dennison, there are people who still believe some of the myths spread by anti-condom advocates.
“I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard from people who’ve been told that latex condoms have ‘tiny pores’ in them that let through viruses, such as HIV. That simply isn’t true,” says Dennison. “Latex condoms do not have pores, and they are highly effective in preventing viral infections such as HIV.”
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, PPCO is hoping to address the distortion of information about condoms by joining other organizations nationwide to promote the use of latex condoms during National Condom Week.
Dennison describes a conservative movement to push abstinence-only-until-marriage while marginalizing the important part that condoms play in prevention. “These folks are putting ideology before people’s health. We have a responsibility to provide accurate information about all people’s options in sexual decision-making.”
In addition to activities planned at the PPCO health centers, PPCO will join student organizations to distribute free latex condoms, information, and related items on area university and college campuses.
“PPCO appreciates the fact that abstinence is a valid and practical choice,” says Dennison. “The reality, though, is that most people, married or not, will choose to have sex at some point in their lives. Condom awareness and the promotion of responsible choices and behaviors are also key parts of our continuing strategy of prevention.”
For more information on National Condom Week or other services of Planned Parenthood, call 405-528-0221 or visit www.ppcok.org. For an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood clinic, call 1-800-230-PLAN.
The National Condom Week campaign is made possible through the support of Oklahoma AIDSCare Fund, AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Friends Fighting AIDS (OFFAIDS), Mayflower Congregational Church and private donations.