Amanda Brennan, Intern
A little more than two weeks ago the Condom Nation truck pulled up to the city of Washington D.C. to end its tour across the United States at the XIX International Aids Conference. The aim of the campaign was to encourage increased condom use for HIV/AIDS awareness and safe-sex practices. The effort included handing out free condoms, partnering with other organizations to offer free HIV tests, and calling for lower condom prices among retailers. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sponsored the trip, which began in Venice Beach, California, on February 13th, 2012, which is International Condom Day. My first encounter with the campaign came while riding a Metro bus. When I looked out the window, I spotted a giant, American-flagged condom on a truck across the street. Normally, I am used to seeing an ice cream truck or something of that sort, but I guess times are changing…
The shocking image caught peoples’ attention across the country, but reviews about the campaign were mixed. Some agreed with AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s president Michael Weinstein: that “condoms are an essential part of preventing HIV and STDs” and that they are vital for “disease prevention and safer sex.” Others, like 14-year-old Shannon DeLuca of New Jersey, worried that the truck would give people the wrong idea: “I understand what they’re trying to do, but it’s not the message I’d send out to people. To people my age, they would think it’s OK to have sex.”
The young teen is on to something. Although those behind the campaign have an admirable goal in mind—preventing the spread of HIV and STDs—their methods of doing so may not be effective, beneficial, or harm-free in the long run. Yes, the incidences of gonorrhea, syphilis, and AIDS have decreased over the years, but cases of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and teen condom use have increased, as shown in theMARRI Annual Report on Family Trends.
Americans cannot depend on a latex sleeve to solve our country’s sexual and health problems. Condoms may help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but it cannot eliminate the consequences of sex for individuals and relationships. Rather than depend on “easy” solutions, individuals must come to a greater understanding and respect of human sexuality as it was intended by our Creator.