WASHINGTON, D.C. -- What would an AIDS conference be without a few thousand condoms making the rounds?
The motto of the Condomize! movement, sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund, might as well be “wear condoms loud and proud” (and in every flavor and color of the rainbow).
Condomize! is working to “reduce the stigma associated with condoms” and to make sure everyone can access condoms, all over the world.
Sex education with strategies that speak to young people is important to reduce transmission of sexually transmitted infections and HIV. But in many countries, including the United States, safer sex is not widely taught.
Only 16 percent of high school students surveyed nationwide reported ever learning about HIV/AIDS in school. But of all students, almost half had had sex, according to 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. About 60 percent used condoms.
In Minnesota, the picture is similar. Roughly 50 percent of 12th graders said they'd had sex. About 60 percent of them had used condoms.
Enter programs like Condomize!, which uses colorful signage, young spokespeople, video, social media and dance as outreach.
Their many booths throughout the convention center in Washington, D.C. have an array of brightly packaged condoms in bins with the words “Live, Love, Condomize!” in big letters. Volunteers pass out condoms for attendees to take home, and educators speak about condom use atop stages decorated with inflated multi-colored rubbers.
Sad, you’re not there to witness the condomizing campaign for yourself?
The website is just as lively and fun. Play the Condom Grab game with Condom Man, download a ringtone for your phone, or send your lover or lover-to-be an e-card reminding them protection is part of your game.
Below are a few Condomize! highlights from the conference, including the flash mob:
-- DANIELA HERNANDEZ
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