Walking condom raises awareness

By Aubrey McDonnell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Weeklong event supplies free testing, prophylactics

A man wearing a large condom suit roamed the mall yesterday to catch the attention of passing students, while volunteers handed out free condoms to celebrate the beginning of sexual awareness week.

The Student Health Advisory Committee, a committee of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, received money from Campus Health Service and ASUA to hold awareness events on the mall throughout the week, said Cherilyn Gain, an ASUA and SHAC member.

"We organize things on the mall to advise the student body and get them involved," said Gain, a sophomore majoring in English and Spanish. "We are trying to make a difference as far as student help. Today we are focusing on prevention."

Yesterday's main event was to guess the number of condoms in a jar to win a prize. Participants were also showered with free condoms and sexually informative brochures.

Other organizations also planned events to promote sexual awareness and disease prevention, such as the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, who work with citizens from Southern Arizona and Mexico to spread awareness of sexually transmitted diseases.

SAAF offered free AIDS testing yesterday in the Student Union Memorial Center and said this time they came prepared for a large turnout.

SAAF visited the campus in December for World AIDS Day and had such a large turnout they had to turn people away, said Chris Newman, a PrideAlliance volunteer.

"We focus on prevention," said Sotero Cruz, senior educator for De Ambiente. "We try to give sexually active people the tools they need to stay safe and healthy."

Students at high risk of being exposed to STDs should get tested every three months. Students in a monogamous relationship should still get tested every six months to one year, said Cruz.

"I am getting tested because I have worked with AIDS organizations and am an RA, so being informed is important to me," said Cambel Berk, a biochemistry senior. "I am also trying to set an example."

The ASUA Pride Alliance, a campus group devoted to promoting diversity and individuality on campus for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied students, will host daily events for the week.

Transgender speaker and UA alumnus Al Cannon will promote sexual orientation acceptance in a speech on the fourth floor of the student union today at noon.

Later this week, the Cellar will be home of the Cross Dress Cabaret, a drag show with UA student participation.

"I am very excited about Cross Dress Cabaret," Berk said. "My friend is the host so I will definitely be there, and I think it's definitely something worth going to."