UTEP Health Center Covers Benefits of Condom Use  

Posted: 2/14/2011

Beyond the snickers of February as National Condom Month are the stark statistics that show how “safe sex” can have a dramatic impact on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. 
Student Health Center UTEP

The Student Health Center (SHC) at The University of Texas at El Paso plans several fast and furious activities this month to raise awareness of the availability and proper use of condoms and how to deal with the physical and emotional consequences of unprotected sex.

The educational events, which organizers hope will resonate with the college crowd, are planned in the Union Breezeway and Miner Village, said Valerie Farrington, SHC nurse practitioner. 

Part of the focus also will be on ways to open lines of communication among sexual partners about condom use to create and maintain a healthy relationship, Farrington said. 

“The emotional toll (of negative news) is huge,” Farrington said. “Relationships and trust can be destroyed. Self-esteem can go to the dumps. Of course, there is the problem of having an STD that is infectious forever or can shorten a lifespan. That always is a possibility. STDs are anything but simple.” 
A national condom website states that U.S. consumers purchase 440 million condoms per year. The consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of HIV transmission and can prevent 85 percent to 98 percent of unintended pregnancies, according to the website at www.feministcampus.org/condom_woa.asp.
National Condom Month was started at the University of California – Berkeley in 1978. The concept grew through the ‘80s and ‘90s into an event that could be used to educate high school and college students, among others. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, minorities and people from the ages of 15 to 25 are at the highest risk to acquire an STD.
The University’s efforts to promote condom use will have to be quick and fun to be effective with students who rush from one class to another or who may be embarrassed with the topic, said Joseph Carvalho, a junior multidisciplinary studies major. 
“I don’t think students get enough (sex education) in high school. That’s why this information is so important. There are so many ways to catch a disease, even if you use a condom. Some people won’t know what to do or where to go to deal with the consequences,” Carvalho said. “The tricky part will be to get their attention. “
The SHC sells colored, high-quality condoms for 25 cents each. People can find competitive prices online, but the health center’s prices are far less expensive than supermarkets or drug stores where condoms can range from 60 cents to a dollar each. People who are allergic to latex will have to pay more for polyisophrene condoms.  
Despite the efforts to promote safe sex, the SHC still registers about 30 new STD cases per month. That does not include UTEP students who address their issues with a personal doctor or at a community clinic. The center can for $39 test and treat a student for chlamydia, an STD that could damage reproductive organs if not treated. Farrington said 24,000 cases of infertility are caused each year from STDs in the United States. 
Farrington said the SHC and the College of Health Sciences will work together to present classes about STDs and birth control at the center’s classroom in the near future.
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