By Joseph Altman Jr.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students celebrated Valentine's Day with hearts and flowers yesterday while UA Student Health celebrated the beginning of National Condom Week with a new plastic condom.
The goal of National Condom Week is to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy in the United States by increasing the proportion of sexually active people who use condoms correctly and consistently, said Lee Ann Hamilton, health educator for Student Health.
"If people are sexually active, we want to encourage them to use condoms each and every time," Hamilton said.
In order to increase student awareness, condom week is bringing attention to a new alternative to latex condoms Ä the plastic condom.
The new condoms, made of polyurethane, can be much thinner than latex condoms, which increases sensation, said Arthur Padilla, health educator for the Pima County Community Prevention and Public Health Department.
The plastic condoms can also be used with oil-based lubricants. Latex condoms, on the other hand, break down when used with lubricants such as lotion.
Clinical testing, however, will take another six months until the condoms can be proven to stop the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases. For now, they are on the market in 13 western states as a "contraceptive for birth control," Padilla said. The condom, by Avanti, is available at Walgreen's drug stores in Arizona.
The Avanti condom "should be just as effective as anything else," Padilla said. "Most AIDS service organizations will support the use of it."
Hamilton said, "The Avanti is more expensive, and there's not a lot of data out (about it) in the health world right now, but I'm sure we'll be hearing more."
Student Health has other activities planned for the remainder of the week.
Tonight, members of "Frisky Business," a safer-sex peer-education group, will be distributing condoms at a local bar. Then, tomorrow, Student Health will be on the Mall from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to distribute educational materials and free condoms. There will also be contests with prizes, an appearance by "Mr. Condom," and condom flowers and key chains available for sale.
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