Buying condoms becomes easier

By Cara Miller

Arizona Daily Wildcat

When Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive, the world finally realized that if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.

Aggressive media campaigns and celebrity spokespersons have helped perpetuate the awareness of the realities of sexually transmitted diseases and the importance of using condoms.

Still, many students are uncomfortable with the prospect of walking into Walgreens and purchasing a box of condoms. With student groups such as Frisky Business and condom machines in the residence halls, the University of Arizona has taken an active role in reducing embarrassment while promoting safer sex.

"I think people are naturally shy about the subject," said Edith Jones, Frisky Business member. "We want to make it easier for them."

Part of Frisky Business' job is to increase awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy in order to promote condom use.

"We want them to feel comfortable coming to Student Health," Jones said. "We aren't there to judge people, and we want them to come get condoms without feeling people are going to look at them."

But Student Health is not the only way students can get condoms without being subjected to the fear of a price check in the middle of a crowded drug store. The residence halls are also a source for clandestine condom buying.

"We have tried to place them in locations which are somewhat private," said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.

Instituted in 1992, six of the residence halls have condom machines, including Arizona-Sonora, Manzanita-Mohave, Graham-Greenlee, Kaibab-Huachuca, Apache-Santa Cruz and Coronado Residence Halls.

"We tried to put them in the guest restrooms so you can lock the door behind you and gain as much privacy as you need," Van Arsdel said. "It is also a good location because they are unisex bathrooms."

Still some residence halls are not as subtle. Coronado's machine is located in the laundry room, Apache-Santa Cruz's is in the middle of the vending area and Graham-Greenlee's is smack dab in the middle of the kitchen.

Graham-Greenlee Hall Director M.J. Konopke said she thought it was important to have the machines in the halls.

"If they are going to practice it, at least they can practice it safely," she said. "But I don't think the kitchen is the best place."

Lawrence Murray, a psychology senior who usually buys his condoms at stores, said they should be more available on campus.

"It's like they have to make it into a fad," he said. "It needs to be something everyone is doing. If people see one person do it, they will follow."

Konopke said part of the problem is that people are reluctant to talk about sex.

"Our society makes sex seem like such a bad thing, so it's still taboo to talk about it," she said.

In order to make the subject less taboo, Frisky Business makes safer-sex presentations to sororities, fraternities, athletic groups and

residence halls. Yesterday, Frisky Business was distributing condoms as part of Alcohol Awareness Week.

"It's an intimate subject," Jones said. "That's why we're passing them (condoms) out on the Mall with a penis on the table, so it's not so embarrassing."

For Jose Promis, a media arts senior, the subject of condom use is not embarrassing it's simply a fact of life.

"It's just expected," he said. "The only problem of communication is if you don't have a condom."

Although Frisky Business promotes the use of any latex condom, the group distributes Sheik condoms. Trojans, however, are the brand of choice according to a March 1989 issue of Consumer Reports.

Graded on cost, lubrication, thinness and staying power, Trojan Kling Naturalamb were top rated because they are easy to put on, offer a greater sensation and contain the right amount of lubrication. The only complaint was that they were too expensive.

However, these are not latex condoms, which means they are less effective against pregnancy and do not protect against HIV or STDs.

Student Health Services distributes Trojans. Previously, they were able to offer them for free, but now they must charge per 12-pack. The price depends on the features; the basic nonlubricated cost $5, lubricated are $6 and those lubricated with nonoxynol 9 are $7.

While condoms are accessible on campus, health educator Lynn Fields said the purchasing method depends on the student.

"For some people, getting them on campus can be just as difficult as going to the Circle K," she said. "Every person is different; you need to find your best environment where you feel comfortable buying them."

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