|College Activists on Front Lines in the War against HIV/AIDS and STDs|
Underground Student Network Distributes Condoms
Washington, DC (Wednesday, March 11, 2009) – Youth activists are using underground networking to distribute condoms on college campuses with little or no access to condoms as they fight against the spread of sexually transmitted infections and HIV among their peers. More than 3,500 college students from over 900 colleges have applied to take part in the Great American Condom Campaign (GACC), a youth-led grassroots movement to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STIs by raising awareness and educating their peers about critical health issues related to condom use in the United States.
This year, the GACC will distribute one million condoms to more than 1,500 “SafeSites” on more than 800 college and university campuses in 49 states (Alaska is the one exception). SafeSites are located at public and private institutions; four-year, junior and technical colleges; historically black colleges and universities; trade, design, online, music, aeronautical and military schools; and religiously affiliated schools. Priority is given to students at schools where condom availability is restricted or limited.
“It’s been great to see so many students from across the country excited about and interested in protecting the sexual health of their peers,” says Sarah Audelo, Advocates for Youth’s Youth Activist Network Manager. “Although the campuses are incredibly diverse - - from very liberal to very conservative - - the students all recognize the importance of promoting safer sex.”
The project is a collaboration of Advocates for Youth and Trojan® brand condoms.
Despite a common goal, SafeSite distribution plans are as diverse and creative as the students behind them. From bar crawls to educational events, GACC participants balance maximum impact with discretion appropriate to campus climate and policies - -some even risking suspension or expulsion.
To combat this, many SafeSites are also distributing information and hosting awareness raising events to correct their peers’ misinformation, or lack thereof, as part of their condom distribution plan.
Although sometimes in opposition to school policy, many GACC participants laud the chance to become more involved on campus and to influence the lives of their peers in a meaningful way.
“At the end of the day, by becoming SafeSites, students demonstrate a genuine concern for the health and future of their peers.” Audelo says. “They recognize that students are having sex, and they are taking it upon themselves to ensure that as many people as possible are able to protect themselves.”
Advocates for Youth is a national organization that promotes programs and advocates for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.