Sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies are nothing to laugh at, especially when they are preventable.
But laugh — and learn — is exactly what Boynton Health Service hopes students will do this week as Safer Sex Week begins today.
The week of activities, which ends Thursday, will give students an opportunity to learn about safe sex practices by participating in a number of fun activities.
Activities include the stitching of an AIDS quilt, a candlelight HIV/AIDS vigil, a 1980s theme dance and a safer sex maze.
The purpose for Safer Sex Week is to educate students about safe sex practices early in the school year, before bad habits take hold, said Dave Dorman, health educator at Boynton Health Service.
“We felt if we could get some of the information and issues out earlier in the year we’d have a better chance of having an impact” on helping students to develop safer sex strategies, Dorman said. “Our main goal,” he added, “is to minimize the amount of STD spreading and unintended pregnancies.”
Many of the activities, such as the sex maze and the distribution of condoms and health-related information, have traditionally taken place in February during National Condom Week.
Although these activities will be repeated in the winter, Dorman and members of Boynton’s Sexual Health Awareness and Disease Education program felt that it was important to educate students in the fall.
Jessica Swann, co-coordinator of the health program, said the events were intentionally sandwiched between National Coming Out Week and the University’s Homecoming.
She added that because Homecoming is traditionally a big beer-drinking week, its important to promote safe sex practices now.
The health program is a 5-year-old student organization that consists of 25 peer educators who promote safe sex in high schools, residence halls, fraternities, sororities and campus cultural centers.
Activities begin today in Coffman Memorial Union with stitching panels for the AIDS quilt. Campus community members will be able to purchase a rectangle for $5 and stitch it into the quilt. The finished quilt will be stitched into a larger quilt that will be unveiled Dec. 1 on World AIDS Day in Washington D.C.
Saturday’s main activities include the candlelight vigil and 80s theme dance in Coffman’s Great Hall. The “Safety Dance” will celebrate STD prevention efforts, Swann said.
The quilting and candlelight vigil were planned to correspond to activities taking place in Washington D.C., Dorman said.
Events for the week will encourage people to engage in discussions of safe sex practices and sexual health issues, Dorman said. They include a debate about how federal officials may have mislead the public about the danger of AIDS, and the distribution of free condoms and brochures.
The week will also involve the showing of the 1995 film “Jeffrey” and discounts on bowling in the Gopher Game Room.