Monday, March 8, 2010

Female Condoms (and another anecdote)


Snippet courtesy of the Washington Post:


The District will become the first city in the United States to distribute female condoms free, part of a project that will make 500,000 of them available in beauty salons, convenience stores and high schools in parts of the city with high HIV rates.
City officials said the distribution could begin within the next three weeks in parts of wards 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7, where a study showed that large numbers of African American heterosexuals engage in risky sexual behavior that could easily lead to infection.
The move is an official acknowledgment of the futility of relying solely on the use of male condoms, which have been distributed citywide for nearly a decade, to stem the District's epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Officials said they are turning to female condoms to give women more power to protect themselves from HIV and sexually transmitted diseases when their partners refuse to use protection.
HIV/AIDS infection is the leading cause of death for black women 25-34 nationwide. A 2008 report showed the District's HIV/AIDS rate at 3 percent, or about 15,100 adults, a major epidemic.
"Anywhere male condoms are available, female condoms will be available," said Shannon Hader, director of the D.C. HIV/AIDS Administration. "We're not saying that if you're a school in this area, you can't get female condoms. We're trying to make every effort count to build on what already exists . . . to expand options rather than limit them."


When I began high school, my second job ever was working for an HIV/AIDS advocacy group as a peer educator. The parent organization was the one that my mother worked for and looking back, I think both of my parents appreciated the fact that they never had to have a sex talk with me because I learned all the educational stuff from work. As a matter of fact, they never had to have any kind of talk with me about anything except "becoming a woman"...no further details on that.


Anyway, it wasn't just a job for me. Nothing is ever just a job to me. It was a passion; educating kids my age (and college kids, and younger kids) about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, sex, STDs and AIDS? Knowledge = power, man. Seriously.


Anyway, as a project all my own, I was in the drugstore with my mom, and asked her why they don't carry female condoms. She didn't have an answer for this and I'm sure the thought of her daughter wondering about condoms was as gross to her as my even considering the fact that my parents are intimate. Hey, call me what you will. I know we're all grown, but I really would just rather not...


So, one day, I had my mother drive me around to just about every drug store in my hometown so that I could speak with the pharmacist/store managers and inform them that there is a female condom (made of polyurethane for all those guys that claim they're allergic to latex, wink) and it can be inserted up to eight hours before sex, and it is easy as putting in a tampon. The fact that drug stores didn't carry female condoms, or even dental dams, while my organization handed them out for free and demonstrated them on plastic sex-ed models was just plain appalling to my virgin fourteen year old mind; the only resources available were geared toward heterosexual men! Balderdash! I even mentioned these facts in school to my fast in the ass sexually active peers, because I think that many young people aren't educated on the resources available. I was a mature fourteen, folks.


At any rate, I got run off by more pharmacists and store managers than I made progress, but I was at least proud of myself for the effort. I told y'all, activism was just always there for me (smile).


Anyway, good for you DC. I hope everyone else follows your lead.


Be Righteous.

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