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LUSU Women’s Officer Sara Dunn has launched a sexual health and personal safety campaign with the aim of tackling sexually-transmitted infections among Lancaster students.
The campaign centres on the distribution of free condoms, femidoms and lubricant, and the encouraging of students to actually use them.
“Purchasing condoms can be insanely embarrassing, not to mention quite expensive,” Sara said. “But with an increasing number of young adults practising unsafe sex without barrier-method contraceptives, many will come into contact with a sexually-transmitted infection (STI) during their time at university.”
Sara hopes to change the attitudes of students, many of whom believe that STIs are something that won’t happen to them:
“Like the plane that crashes for everyone else but you, it is fair to admit that we have an epidemic of denial at hand. De-stigmatising sex, contraception, bisexuality and homosexuality can help promote methods of practising safe sex with an attitude of pride rather than shame.”
The sexual health of young people in the UK is notoriously poor, and young women fare particularly badly. The statistics are damning: 8.1% of women under 20 are infected with chlamydia; 40% of females diagnosed with gonorrhoea are under 20; 29% of females diagnosed with genital warts are under 20. All of these infections are avoidable simply by using barrier-method contraception.
“With sex being on display everywhere, it is little wonder that many young adults today are eager, even pressurised into committing themselves to an act that takes great responsibility,” Sara says.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though: “Sex can be pretty damn good fun… to make sure it’s worry- and stress-free, flavoured condoms can spice things up, femidoms offer an alternative to the ‘johnny’ and dental dams can be placed over the ‘origin of desire’ to ensure a worry-free sexual encounter with your partner.”
Condoms, lube and information will be distributed by Sara and the team on the Thursday and Friday of Fresher’s Fair, after which they will be continually available from the Women’s Office.