Starting today, the University Health Center will be providing students with Valentine’s Day “goodie bags” in an effort to promote sexual health and wellness. On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, students can attend the tabling event at the EMU between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to build personal goodie bags full of whatever their hearts desire.
The UO Health Center is better known by students for providing things like free condoms and dental dams in the jars by each of the doors, but for this, students can expect these supplies to have a special Valentine’s twist: think strawberry flavored dental dams, red male condoms wrapped up to resemble candy suckers, female condoms, finger cots and lube.
“It’s just to get our safer sex supplies out,” said Elisabeth Maxwell, a sexual health promotion specialist in the Health Center. “We tend to do things around the holidays to remind students to use these. We have what we call our ‘condom bar’ and other jars discreetly placed and we actually go through a lot of sexual health supplies. I have to come top [the jars] off every day.”
Maxwell said that just this fall, they began putting male condoms in the Student Recreation Center as well and since then that location goes through about 400 to 600 condoms a week.
“So students are taking them,” Maxwell said. “But we never know for sure if they’re using them so this is just to get the word out again. We sometimes suspect that students come and take them as party favors.”
This tabling event idea was conceived by the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) in an effort to promote sexual health and prevention of STIs and pregnancy. This event also provides an opportunity for those in SHAC or health center representatives to advocate for the other services they provide that are perhaps lesser-known by the majority of students.
“There’s CCare which is where students can get free contraception, and we have the applications here,” Maxwell said. “It’s based on income so students can qualify for a year’s worth of free contraception; I don’t think a lot of people know about that. Also, all of the free supplies here. We promote it at IntroDUCKtion, but if you don’t use the health services very much you might not know.”
In addition to CCare and the free sexual health supplies, the health center also offers STI testing in its lab, HPV vaccines, and have recently been given a grant from the ASUO to do free HIV testing which it hopes to start promoting during spring term.