West Chester University’s own Tyson Hall sponsored “Condom- Candy- Grams” for students on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. in the building’s lobby. The concept was for students to send free ‘grams’ to friends to promote safer sex.February is National Condom Month and while most grab a condom before performing the deed, many do not know about the history of the condom.
Condoms have actually been around for over a thousand years, beginning in 1000 B.C. Images portrayed Egyptians wearing a linen sheath. In the 1500s, research found that the linen sheath was useful for the prevention of infection and eventually for its usefulness in the prevention of pregnancy.
The name condom is believed to have been named after Dr. Condom, who supplied King Charles II of England with animal tissue sheaths.
In 1844, Goodyear and Hancock began to mass produce condoms made out of vulcanized rubber, and in 1880, the first latex condom was produced.
The 1960s brought about a sexual revolution that resulted in a decline of condom use, as more and more people practiced “free love.”
Finally in the 1990s, a production began of different types of condoms including: colors, ribbed, flavored, large and the first polyurethane condom.
The idea of National Condom Week started at the University of California at Berkeley by students in 1978, according to Nationalcondomweek.com. The purpose of the week is to teach young adults about safer sex and to raise awareness of the risks that come with being sexually active.
“Humans are sexual beings,” Dr. James Allen said a former president and CEO of the American Social Health Association, in a 2001 press release, “Abstinence and monogamy are important public health messages, but to think these messages alone will fix the [STD] problem is shortsighted at best and dangerous at worst.”
Although condoms have a long history, STDs have yet to be completely written out of history. There are over 12 million new cases of STDs a year. Over 70,000 Americans have viral STDs like genital herpes, HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B and all are lifelong diseases.
Women are approximately five times more likely to become infected and suffer serious consequences. Many people do not experience any noticeable symptoms initially, but still pass on the disease.
The evidence is overwhelming that among those who are sexually active, consistent and correct condom use greatly reduces the risk of contracting infections like HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Research has also shown that young women whose male partners use condoms regularly cut their risk of acquiring HPV significantly.
Despite hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent on abstinence-only education programs, each year in the U.S., there are approximately 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections, when about half of which occur among the youth ages, 15-24.
Tyson Hall R.A., Whitney Strickland, reconfirmed the notion that there isn’t enough discussion regarding sex.
“I believe a lot of students see it as a joke, and it is up to people or organizations like the Wellness Center to promote safe sex,” Strickland said. “Sex is a taboo topic and there isn’t enough discussion about it, therefore, we still have students unaware of diseases and other situations because there isn’t enough education on it.”
Untreated sexually transmitted infections can cause a host of medical complications, including infertility. STDs often have no noticeable symptoms and can be contracted from partners who do not have a clue they have an infection.
Using protection every time seems like a simple and straight-forward thing to do, but it is easy to see how common sense might be trumped in the heat of the moment. This is why it is important for anyone who thinks they might want to have sex, to plan ahead and have condoms on hand.
Another hurdle to safer sex is negotiating condom use with partners. Sometimes this is difficult if a partner thinks that using condoms diminishes intimacy or lessens the spontaneity of sex. ASHA’s Web site has a special page at www.ashastd.org/condomnegotiation.cfm with tips on talking with partners who might be reluctant to use condoms, and explains how the best sex is safer sex.
For questions regarding this event, you can contact The Student Health and Wellness Center, 2nd Floor, Wayne Hall. (610)436.2509.
Kerry Barth is a student at West Chester University majoring in professional studies with minors in journalism and health sciences. She can be reached at KB358328@wcupa.edu.