Halloween candy, Halloween condoms

Dal's Peer Health is giving away condoms along with Halloween treats to promote safe sex in a fun way

Dalhousie Peer Health is giving away candy-and-condom goody bags to students this Halloween to promote safe sex. (Photo: Kamia Creelman)

Raché Somner sits in a basement room in Howe House on Dalhousie Campus tying ribbons around Halloween treat bags filled with candy. And condoms. And lubricant.

She is one of four Dalhousie University nursing students giving away these special goodie bags this Halloween to promote safer sex in a playful way.

Jennifer Jollymore, Alison Westhaver, Christine Felix and Raché Somner will set up tables around the Dalhousie campus on Oct. 30 and 31 to pass out the bags, along with sexual health information.

The student nurses are volunteers with Dalhousie Peer Health, an organization that promotes health awareness on campus. The candy-and-condom giveaway is part of Peer Health’s year-round initiative to get students to think and talk openly about sex.

Westhaver, 22 thinks more serious approaches sometimes put off students.

“If you’re standing on the corner and someone hands you a box of condoms, someone might be worried someone will see them with it. But if you’re like, ‘Here, have a goodie bag—have some information on sexual health’ … this might be a better way.”

Somner, 24, says the Peer Health game-show workshops held at the beginning of the semester, such as Sexy Bingo and Sex with Trebek, overflowed with students. She hopes the goodie bags will be just as popular.

Derrick Enslow, Peer Health’s promotion program manager, says students come to university with varying levels of sexual education.

“We try to blanket first-year students with information on where to get condoms.”

Sophie Murphy, a Peer Health advisor, says a surprising number of students need to be shown how to properly unwrap and put on a condom.

There are, of course, sexually sophisticated students at Dalhousie as well, and Somner says most students her age know they should wear condoms. But this makes it even more baffling when these students don’t.

Dr. Glenn Andrea of Dalhousie Health Services says most students are well informed about most sexually transmitted diseases and the need for condoms. Even so, the clinic diagnoses cases of chlamydia regularly and a few cases of gonorrhea each year.

“There are occasional new cases of syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B, and although not common, they are much more serious.”

“The main gap in knowledge is about genital herpes,” Andrea says. At a Sex with Trebek workshop, Somner says, she and the other volunteers were just as stunned as the students to learn that herpes was the number one sexually transmitted disease.

Health Services sees about three cases a day, Andrea says.

The condom goodie bags do not encourage students to treat sex casually, Westhaver says.

“People are having sex, whether they have a condom or not. I don’t think it’s promoting sex, I think it’s promoting sexual health. If you’re going to do it, you might as well be safe about it.”

Andrea thinks the playful goodie bags are an excellent idea. “Sex is supposed to be fun.”

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