A Christchurch man is helping to make the conversation about sexual health easier for the lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
New Zealand Aids Foundation (NZAF) community engagement co-ordinator Akira Le Fevre said health awareness in the LGBT community was a big issue and providing condoms and lubricant was a part of promoting the condom culture in New Zealand.
“It’s about building a condom culture where condoms are just the norm.”
Le Fevre said the safe-sex messages were about protecting people – especially men who have sex with men and are susceptible to getting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or sexually-transmitted infections.
Today medicines and drugs are preventing some deaths caused by the immune-killing virus. However, this increased the risk of HIV being spread when people did not use protection.
“With any kind of issue the only way to get around it is to actually talk about it. To be seen promoting it positively,” Le Fevre said.
The Love Your Condom (LYC) campaign had become something that men who have sex with men “want to be a part of,” and people are getting involved to pack condoms and lube.
“We’ve made safe sex cool.”
Education to change a culture of thinking
Despite condoms being distributed free to some venues in New Zealand they can be hard for younger people to get their hands on.
Christchurch Pride co-ordinator Jill Stevens said the LYC campaign was fantastic as it promoted safe sex and made condoms available for everyone.
However, she believed condoms were “pretty pricey” for young people and should be funded more by the Government.
Stevens said safe-sex could be better promoted in schools and the Love Your Condom campaign was appealing, ‘bright-coloured’ and ‘hip’ which would get youth interested in sexual health.
Promoting condoms in a positive way taught young people the “in’s and outs” of why protection should be used and the risks involved when precautions were not taken.
A condom culture was not just about free condoms and lubricant, it was about protecting people from sexually-transmitted diseases, aids and ensuring people were safe during sex.
Packing Volunteer Corey Kingsbury said condom packing was a fun social event that helped keep people safe.
He said being open with friends and talking about safe-sex made it more acceptable for everyone to “just wear a condom”.
“It means you’re just taking your health seriously and just looking after yourself.”
Pharmac funded the purchase of more than 600,000 condoms each year.