National Condom Week: My condom earrings | Amy Johnson

You probably missed it. But because I am so committed to making sure you have accurate information about sexuality, I’ll fill you in: National Condom Week was Feb. 14-21.

If Federal Way sponsored any awareness events (brings a whole new connotation to “Safe Cities,” huh?), I missed them. But to do my part, I made sure to wear my condom earrings to church Sunday and to our sexuality education class afterward. They are a big hit in my congregation, with young and old alike. I must admit: I am not the first to do this. I actually copied the idea from another congregant who used to work in HIV/AIDS prevention and has circa late-1980s condom earrings. Another local adult friend asked if my earrings had an expiration date, proving that I am succeeding in my educational efforts, since he used to be unaware that condoms could expire.

Started in 1978 at University of California-Berkeley, National Condom Week quickly spread to other campuses, high schools and organizations promoting sexual health. A friend mentioned that she used to go down to the Bay Area with her husband in February, and remembers the activities commemorating National Condom Week, but mostly the ice sculptures of syphilis and gonorrhea bacteria.

I’ve written about condoms before, but to recap, here’s why you should care. STD rates are on the rise, and there are scary statistics — like one in four youth ages 15-19 has an STD. If you only count sexually active youth, the statistic rises to one in two. And 30 percent don’t know they have one because one of the most common symptoms of an STD is no symptom at all.

But hey there, adults! Check this out: According to the CDC, only 22 percent of unmarried men and 19 percent of unmarried women ages 15-44 use a condom every time they have sexual intercourse. So heads up, all of you single, divorced, dating sexually active adults out there in the 25-44-year-old category. You need to use condoms, too. One of the fastest growing categories in new HIV infections is women ages 39-60. Get with the times and stay safe.

Don’t keep them in your wallet, guys — the heat and compression can damage the latex, increasing the likelihood they will break when you most need them. Look online for key chains that hold condoms, or ladies, look for attractive compacts that hide condoms inside (try www.justincase.com). Trojan also carries a new product that is available locally: Trojan 2 Go, with hard side packaging so you can keep them safe in a pocket or purse.

And don’t forget to use them during oral or anal sex. Diseases can be spread through all three types of intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal) and some, like genital warts and herpes, can be spread by skin to skin contact, so make sure the infected area is covered by a condom.

It’s true this is a crucial issue for teens. CDC stats also show there are approximately 19 million new STD infections reported each year, and nearly half of those are contracted from people 15 to 24 years old. What does this mean? It means we need to talk to our youth about sexuality education and condoms. At the risk of repeating myself, don’t you want your children to learn about sexuality from a trusted adult (you)? Get educated, get over yourself, and get talking.

Whether you have earrings made out of condoms, or have red ears just thinking about them, it’s important to talk to you kids about condom use. Even if they are not sexually active, they probably know someone who is.

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