The best thing you can give your significant other on this special day is peace of mind. Thankfully, condom dispensers are provided for everyone on campus. Did I mention the condoms are free?
February 8th marked the official one-year anniversary of the free condom dispensers located on campus. The Center for Latino Community Health has been providing students with free access to condoms on for a year..
Two are in the male and female bathrooms of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The others are located in the male and female bathrooms on the second and third floor of the University Student Union, and in the gender neutral restroom on the first floor.
Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Service Administration, the dispensers came as a response to information revealed in a needs assessment study.
“The focus groups were the first aspect that we carried out as part of our needs assessment for the project,” said Erika Bonilla, one of the program managers for the project.
The information uncovered in these focus groups revealed a need for conversations around safe sex, specifically the topics of HIV and Hepatitis C. From there, the idea of the condom dispensers was born – as well as the idea to begin hosting informational workshops.
“The workshops work as a two-day intervention,” Bonilla said. “The first day they do a pre-survey, and then we carry out the first day of the workshop, which lasts about two hours.”
The workshops are centered on being fun and interactive with games like “Pin The Tale On The Donkey,” “Flip Cup” and the Spanish version of bingo, “Loteria,” being used to keep participants engaged. Day two revolves around health education and discussion.
William Lucas, a graduate research fellow and health educator, is a second year anthropology major who originally got involved in the program while tutoring at the downtown location of the Center For Latino Community Health. located on 12th and Pine. From there, he was brought onto help with the focus groups and dispensers.
“The purpose of the pre-survey is to get a baseline of what people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviors are regarding things like HIV, Hepatitis C, substance abuse and safe sex practices,” Lucas said. “After they’ve gone through the full workshop we see if anything has changed, and if their knowledge has increased because of the workshops.”
Lucas says the workshops have provided a safe place for people to open up and ask questions. Honest conversations are able to take place, showing that, when talked about, the topic of safe sex begins to be looked at as educational versus taboo.
Free HIV Testing will also take place today in the Central Quad as a kickoff to National Condom Day and Valentine’s Day.
The hope is that the workshops and events, combined with the efforts of the condom dispensers will continue to drive students to practice safe sex and decrease their risks for contracting an STD.