What can we do to encourage our peers to wear condoms? We can remind them that HIV doesn't discriminate, along with other STDs and pregnancy. We must continue to speak on HIV and AIDS and share our stories so others can be educated and not make the same mistakes we did. Social and cultural factors, not just unavailability or ignorance, influence why young people do not use condoms.
Some sexually active people under 25 years of age associate condoms with a lack of trust, while others believe carrying them could imply sexual experience, which might be a plus for men but not necessarily for women. Young people assess a potential partner's disease risk, and the need for a condom, by their appearance and how well they know them socially.
Programs that merely provide information and condoms, without addressing the crucial social factors identified are only tackling part of the problem. Consistent and correct condom use reduces the risk of HIV infection by 90%. It is something definitely worth learning how to do correctly.
I feel that parents have the biggest role in providing education and access to condoms. Even though parents sometimes find it difficult to talk to their children about sex and condoms, taboo or not, this must be done. What a parents informs the child of at a young age will always stay with them as they grow up into an adult. Parents can't be afraid to talk about adult topics with teenagers. One small conversation could save your child's life.
I also feel that schools, especially high schools, have a big role in teaching students about condoms and safe sex. I remember when I was in high school, we learned about STDs, condoms and sex in one daily lesson. I am not even sure we had one test on it. It was then pushed under the rug and never mentioned again. Maybe that is why I sit where I am today. I feel high schools, especially Catholic high schools, are afraid to talk about sex and condoms. They have an invisible religious line they must never cross. I think it is bull. We are all human beings and need to learn about what will keep us alive. Condoms Save Lives!
I also feel that politicians could have a big role in giving access to condoms to young people in prison. Sometimes we forget about young people in prison -- they are human too. Young people who are incarcerated are 3 times more likely to become HIV positive. They have no access to condoms at all. I believe that prisoners should have access to condoms. I understand that sex is not permitted in prisons but, wake up, it's a reality. Lots of unprotected sex happens in prison. If it is permitted or not it happens.
Take it from Dab the AIDS Bear ... Condoms Save Lives