By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 14, is also National Condom Day for 2018. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) shares the primary goal of National Condom Week (Feb. 14 – 21) in promoting safe sex and normalizing the use of condoms.
National Condom Day began in the late 1980s and is recognized on Valentine’s Day because studies indicate condom sales are 25 percent higher compared to other days of the year. Of all the birth control methods available, the condom is the only option to also protect against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.
Since 2016, Oklahoma has continued to see a steady increase in STDs. The OSDH has reported more than 21,000 cases of chlamydia, more than 7,500 cases of gonorrhea, nearly 6,000 cases of HIV/AIDS, and nearly 700 cases of syphilis.
Jan Fox, director of the OSDH HIV/STD Service, said the primary purpose of promoting National Condom Day is to educate the public about the need for practicing safe sex at all times. Studies indicate people are more likely to use condoms if they are available prior to a sexual encounter.
“We want more people to be comfortable with purchasing, carrying, talking about, and using condoms,” said Fox. “We hope that one day, buying condoms at the store will feel as normal as buying a gallon of milk.”
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.
The OSDH partners with community-based organizations throughout the state who provide condoms and lubricant, along with additional materials, throughout the year. County health department sites across the state also offer condoms. These sites can also offer important guidance and information about the proper use of condoms.
Free condoms and HIV/STD testing are available at the following locations:
Expressions Community Center
2245 NW 39th St., Oklahoma City
Latino Community Development Agency
420 SW 10th St., in Oklahoma City,
Red Rock Behavioral Services
4400 N. Lincoln Blvd., OKC, OK
Guiding Right, Inc.
1420 NE 23rd St., OKC, OK
Oklahoma City-County Health Department Locations
Gary Cox Partner Building
2700 NE 63rd St., OKC, OK
2149 SW 59th St., Suite 104, OKC, OK
4330 NW 10th St., OKC, OK
Cleveland County Health Department Locations:
424 S. Eastern in Moore (405-794-1591)
250 12th Ave NE in Norman (405-321-4048)
Canadian County Health Department
1023 E. Vandament, Yukon (405-354-4872)
The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF) HIV Education & Prevention Co-op is hosting an event at the University of Oklahoma in Norman on Feb. 14 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. at the Oklahoma Memorial Union in conjunction with activities from the Gender + Equality Center on campus. OACF Safer Sex kits are also available at many of the bars and restaurants along the NW 39th Street Strip. To learn more, contact Cher Golding at 405-348-6600.