Health Educators Promote Safe Sex
Students in the freshman seminar workshops didn’t know all the steps to correct condom usage
It has been almost 30 years since patient zero was diagnosed with the first known case of HIV, yet many New School students continue to have unprotected sex.
A 2009 survey conducted by student health services found that only 20 percent of New School students always use a barrier during vaginal sex, 38 percent during anal sex and 1 percent during oral sex.
Less than 1 percent of students were diagnosed with HIV in the last year, but almost 3 percent were diagnosed with other sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and genital herpes. Four point two percent reported having an STI.
As a response, university administrators are attempting to improve students understanding of sexual health. Since December is AIDS awareness month, the school hosted a panel discussion, a film screening and a ribbon-making station. Student health services offers free HIV testing and hosts workshops year-round, as well as distributing free NYC condoms from the New York City Department of Health Services.
Protection is mostly available to those living in student housing. However, with the majority of students living off campus, peer health advocate Elliott Fukui, a junior at Lang, and health educators Rachel Knopf and Tamara Oyola Santiago at student health services are seeking to provide more condom dispensary sites in class buildings.
“There needs to be access everywhere,” said Fukui. “It needs to be 24/7 [so that] anybody can access what they need and not feel stigmatized or like they’re being watched while their taking it.”
Condoms at student health services used to be accessible only during office hours and behind a locked door during evenings and weekends. However, since students are more comfortable taking contraceptives when others aren’t around, this semester contraceptives at student health services are available at all hours and the supply of 250 condoms is replenished weekly, rather than monthly.
But having access to contraceptives isn’t enough if students don’t know how to use them properly. According to Knopf, students in the freshman seminar workshops didn’t know all the proper steps for correct condom usage. This is where education comes in, but it seems all too easy for students to remain ignorant.
Activist Lolisa Gibson spoke at the university’s “Living the Fight: AIDS Activism” panel.
“Before I found out I had HIV, I didn’t care. I felt sorry for people with HIV, but that was their problem. It wasn’t me, so I didn’t have to know about it,” she said.