“Ask first: communicate and negotiate” – that is the call this National Condom Day, which will take place tomorrow, February 14.
Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, the focus of the national movement is consent. The campaign aims to raise awareness of every person’s right to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy and the right to genuinely agree to when and what sexual activities they take part in, with the freedom to change their mind at any time.
Despite increased education about safe sex, testing and the spread of infection, STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are on the risein Australia.
Reported cases of chlamydia have dramatically increased from 88.3 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 378.6 per 100,000 in 2016. While this may be appear inflated due to improved testing and diagnosis, majorityof young people (15-29 years) with chlamydia remain undiagnosed and untreated.
The advent of online and mobile dating services is also a likely contributor, making finding partners easier than ever. People using dating sites are six times (men) and seven times (women)more likely to have five or more sexual partners annually, compared to those not using a site.
Many STIs can be contracted, and spread, even in the absence of symptoms, and if left untreated, can have serious long-term consequences including infertility. It is important to take precautions such as vigilantly using condoms, undertaking regular STI checks and to have open and honest discussions on the matter with all sexual partners.
Furthermore, sexual assaults reported in Australia continue to rise each year, with almost 25,000cases reported in 2017, an eight-year high, highlighting the critical need to raise awareness of the importance of consent this National Condom Day.