Health Center Illustration

(Audrey Kalman/Emerald)

The University of Oregon Health Center is launching a new initiative to support a safer and more positive attitude regarding sex in the community starting Feb. 11.

The first tier of the plan — called the Protection Connection — is about protective barriers and simplifying where and how to get them.

“We’re going to be doing a direct delivery service to residence halls,” said Cate Clegg-Thorp, UO Health Center health promotion specialist. “Students can hop online, place their order and then receive it in discreet packaging in their mail.”

These safer-sex packages will be custom to the students’ online selection.

Some students experience anxiety when venturing out in public in search of safer-sex supplies — they feel exposed and don’t know where to find what they need. The delivery service is a first step in alleviating this issue.

In order to help the students who are sexually active but not living on campus in the residence halls, the UO Health Center is installing three “Hot Spot” dispensers on campus.

Two dispensers will be stationed in the EMU — one will be located by the restrooms closest to the Fishbowl and the other by the restrooms by Falling Sky Pizzeria and Public House. The third dispenser will be located at the UO Rec Center by the cycling studio. 

Two alternative Protection Connection Hot Spots will be the LGBTQIA3 center and and the Duck Nest in the EMU. Both will offer external condoms, internal condoms, lubricant, oral dams and surgical gloves.

The LGBTQIA3 center is located on the ground floor of the eastern side of the EMU near the gender neutral bathrooms. The Duck Nest can be found on the ground floor of the western side by Campus Copy.

Following these initiatives, the UO Rec Center will be expanding its free external condom selection to be more inclusive, similar to what the hot spots in the EMU will provide. Currently, the Rec Center’s supply is limited. Those in need of a wider array of barriers — like dental dams, finger cots and internal condoms — must go to the health clinic.

“The next level is making [sexual health] feel normal, safe and positive — recognizing there are all types of ways to make sex safer,” said Clegg-Thorp.

The UO Health Center acknowledges that with a wider availability of barriers on campus, students will also need the knowledge to use these barriers and the ability discuss the options with their sexual partner(s).

According to Adria Godon-Bynum, the health promotion manager at UO, the exposure to safer-sex supplies throughout campus will help reduce stigma around sexual health.

“UO has a history of being a sex positive campus,” said Godon-Bynum. “But, in the past few years there hasn’t been a lot of energy dedicated to [maintaining] that.”

One of the UO Health Center’s past sex-positive initiatives included the app SexPositive — now offline — that drew national attention including coverage from Bustle and MTV. Those that downloaded it before it was removed from the app store are still able to use it. The app provides information on sexually transmitted infections risks, safer-sex practices and communication.

Currently, the UO Health Center is looking at how to revive sex positivity for the campus community, while also anticipating an expansion of the center itself.

The STI Screening Clinic is now in its fourth year, according to Doctor Anna Hejinian. She is the associate medical director of the UO Health Clinic, director of the STI Screening Clinic and is a practicing family medicine physician.

“From the first year to the second year, we doubled the [STI Screening] Clinic in size. From the second to the third year, we added even more,” said Hejinian. “But, even with the doubling that we’ve done so far, we’re still booked about a week out.”

The STI Screening Clinic was originally created with the general wellbeing of campus in mind; if the UO Health Center could streamline nonsymptomatic STI screening through a nurse-run clinic, it would give the health practitioners throughout the center more time to help students with ailments like sore throats, according to Hejinian.

With regard to the volume of students in need of sexual health evaluations or screenings, the expansion following the renovation of the UO Health Center will play an important role in creating a healthier campus.

“One in two folks will be diagnosed with an STI by age 25 — and while you’re a college student, one in four will probably be diagnosed with an STI. Lane County, specifically, has some of the highest rates in the nation,” said Clegg-Thorp. “All those pieces play into what the scene looks like here. It makes sexual health a priority for our students here.”

 

We have updated this article for accuracy.

Photojournalist and Sex and Relationships columnist

Dana is a photojournalist specializing in long-format storytelling — particularly regarding gender and social justice topics. She is the Daily Emerald Sex and Relationships columnist. This is her third year at the Emerald.


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