CORNER BROOK — Ever wonder where to put that condom when headed out for a night on the town?
While putting it in your wallet for one night won’t impact the latex, Julie Crouse said there’s easier and more interesting ways to take them with you.
“You can put them in your eyeglass case, you can put them in your camera case, you can put them in a soap dish, you can put them in a little leather wallet, you can put them in a little fanny pack,” said Crouse, harm reduction manager with the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook.
She said those suggestions are all part of the Condom On campaign the AIDS committee is rolling out on the west coast.
Crouse said the whole idea of the campaign is being action oriented and prepared.
“Take a condom with you where ever you go,” said Crouse, who also advises to make sure you take some lube too, as that helps prevent the condom from breaking.
The campaign came out of a study of post-secondary students on condom use and chlamydia that found young people didn’t always have acess to condoms and that they weren’t aware of all the ways that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) could be passed from person to person.
With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Crouse said the committee was able to develop the campaign and a tool kit of resources on topics like STIs, risky behaviours and good sexual health practices.
Crouse said the tool kit, which also includes some promotional swag in the form of key chains, compacts, cigarette cases and iPhone 4 and 4S cases, complete with a slot to carry those condoms in, will be available to community organizations throughout the region.
She said groups like the Community Youth Network, area women’s centre and health organizations, will be able to sign out the kit and facilitate programs themselves.
“We’re hoping that it will be a very positive resource for the region,” said Crouse. “We really hope the message about condoms and access to condoms gets out there.”
Gerard Yetman is the executive director of the ACNL and he said the goal is to take the program and eventually roll it out across the entire province.
Yetman was in from St. John’s on Thursday to attend an open house at the committee’s 11 Main St. office. The event not only marked the launch of Condom On, but also to celebrate a recent expansion at the office.
Crouse said when the committee first moved into the space in the fall of 2011 it occupied one office, but by taking over adjacent space in the building it now has a boardroom/meeting space, a storage room for condoms and needle exchange supplies and an office that is occupied by the AIDS Committee of Western Newfoundland (ACWN).
Both Crouse and Yetman said a goal of the new space is be able to bring in outside organizations to foster partnerships, like the one with ACWN, and work on initiatives together.
Since opening the expanded space in July, Crouse said she has also seen an increase in the number of clients coming in. While much of the committee’s work is done in the field, she said the office offers a space that’s comfortable and private for clients.