Who’s really being safe about sex?

Courtney Dickson, Wellness Columnist Ω

Courtney Dickson, Wellness Columnist Ω

Courtney Dickson, Wellness Columnist Ω

While I was at a student press conference, I picked up the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (SAIT) paper, The Weal, only to find an article that I found mildly concerning. A Trojan Condom and SIECANN (Sex Information and Education Council of Canada) study found that of students engaging in sexual activity, only half of them are using condoms.

According to writer Amanda Siebert, the Trojan/SIECANN study found that 54 per cent of surveyed students use condoms as birth control, while only six per cent use them for STI (sexually transmitted infection) prevention. The rest use them for both (which I applaud).

This is a huge generalization on my part, and may be entirely inaccurate, but I have a feeling that that entire 54 per cent is not in some form of relationship. And those who are engaging in sex with multiple partners are probably not having each person they get busy with get a pre-intercourse STI test. So why are so few people using condoms strictly as birth control, not as STI prevention?

There are a ton of options as far as birth control is concerned. While I’ve previously discussed that it kind of sucks that it’s usually up to the lady to manage that part of a sexual relationship, it’s not like there aren’t accessible options.

Condoms do double duty-they help prevent unwanted pregnancy and prevent the spread of disease. I just feel people aren’t recognizing how important the latter is.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says STI rates are highest among young adults in Canada. Is that because we primarily think about preventing unwanted pregnancy, and let the really uncomfortable stuff come second?

It’s weird, because I feel like our generation has had access to a lot more sexual health education than those before us. I went to public school in Calgary where, starting in grade four, we did some kind of human sexuality unit in health class (except for students whose parents chose not to educate their kids). As I got older, if I didn’t understand something, I had access to the Internet where I could just look it up. Heck, I asked people if I didn’t know. At that conference we got dental dams in our “swag bags” and I didn’t know what that was, and I had to have it explained to me. But someone knew, and that is important. To me that says some people are educated about this stuff, but STIs aren’t as important as not having babies.

Why? STIs can do a lot of harm to our bodies. They can cause infertility, while right now you may say “That sounds great! Then I don’t have to worry about getting a lady preggers!” one day you might seriously regret that. You can suffer through a lot of pain and discomfort from an STI. You could also contract HIV which could develop into AIDS. I don’t think I really need to elaborate on that one for you to know how serious that is.

What’s worse, you can pass an STI on to other partners. How bad would you feel if you found out you had gonorrhea, because someone unknowingly gave it to you, and then you unknowingly gave it to someone else? I’m guessing you would not feel too awesome about yourself.

Take some time to educate yourself on STIs, as well as pregnancy prevention. One is not more important than the other. Both are things you should know if you are going to be sexually active in any capacity.