By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma will be celebrating the effectiveness of latex condoms during National Condom Week, February 10 – 16. People can stop by their closest PPCO health center 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.
There are PPCO health centers located in central Oklahoma City and Edmond.
“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 of condoms. It addresses the misinformation about condoms that might discourage their use, and to do this all with humor and a sense of fun.”
“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.”
According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) the correct and consistent use of latex condoms is among the most effective ways that sexually active people can reduce the risks of unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
Dennison points out that 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 drawing near, 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.
“Those who disapprove of condoms for sexually active people are putting ideology before people’s health,” Dennison continued. “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,” he added.
Services provided by PPCO include: HIV counseling, testing and referral; routine gynecological care; breasts exams; STI (sexually transmitted infection) diagnosis and treatment; fertility awareness instruction; midlife services and hormone replacement therapy; and community education programs.
PPCO believes in the fundamental rights of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence.
The National Condom Week campaign is made possible through the support of Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City, and private donations.
For more information regarding National Condom Week or other services of Planned Parenthood, call 405-528-0221, ext. 301. To make an appointment at a Planned Parenthood clinic, call 1-405-528-2157.