Let me first start by saying that if used properly, condoms are a very effective way to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs and HIV. Although I discuss engaging in raw sex, I am not against the use of condoms; neither am I advocating for their use. My stance is to educate yourself, know all the risk, have open discussion with your partner, then make your educated decision. I was successful in conceiving a child while HIV positive without transmitting the virus. This may not be the case for everyone. My suggestion is to speak with your doctor (along with your partner) and discuss the facts with him/her.
During my training to become certified to administer the Rapid HIV Test here in Michigan I was given a homework assignment. The assignment was to go condom shopping. Not to actually buy the condoms, but to become familiar with different stores and the locations that they kept their condoms and the different types that were available.
During this homework assignment I learned a lot and it took me back to when I was a young teenager buying condoms. So then I began to think, we have become so focused on pushing condoms that maybe we haven't taken enough time to try and figure out why teenagers aren't using them in the first place.
Why Aren't Teenagers Using Condoms?
(No, it's not just you -- there is a bit of an audio delay on this video. Apologies!)
I walked into one of the Detroit drug stores and noticed that the condoms were out in the open on an aisle with tampons and pregnancy tests. Now we all know how some grown men, or even young men, feel about going down that aisle. We also know that the majority of our condom buyers will be men. Is this really an ideal place to keep condoms? Now this young man has been put in an embarrassing situation by being down that aisle. In his mind he is surrounded by women who are watching him condom shop. Hopefully they don't see him pick up anything smaller than a Magnum or his ego may be hurt. So despite the actual size of his dick, he has resorted to buying the wrong sized condoms just so he won't be judged negatively on his dick size. This only leads to improper use of a condom which opens up the gateways for condom breakage, transmission of STDs and HIV, or unwanted pregnancy.
In another store I noticed that condoms were kept behind the counter. So for a young man to purchase them he has to stand at the counter and figure out which kind he wants while others in line wait for him to take his pick. God forbid that the cashier is an elderly lady that reminds him of his grandmother ... WHO WANTS TO BUY CONDOMS FROM THEIR GRANDMOTHER?!? It's understandable that condoms are one thing that is a highly stolen item in stores, but how can we work around this issue? I remember being a teenager who would rather steal a condom than to stand in line holding a box of rubbers while some old lady, who was probably calling me a hoe in her mind, rang me up.
Although it's usually the man that buys condoms, women still have the power to purchase their own and take responsibility for their own bodies. If a woman chooses to hook up with an anonymous partner then chances are that she doesn't know which size condoms to get. So I suggest the female condoms. The problem with this is that they are extremely hard to find in stores. In my local community of Kalamazoo, Michigan, there is not one store that sells them. The only place to get them is at the local AIDS Service Organization and the health department. Even the health department only gives them out by request; they aren't sitting out like the male condoms are, happily displayed in a jar.
For those young men and women who are actually brave enough to buy the condoms and use them, how many of them really know how to use them properly? When I was younger the steps were:
Buy the condom
Rip it open
Put it on
Wrap it up in some tissue
Flush down the toilet.
This was the normal use of a condom in my generation. I can't even remember the number of times I have had condoms break while I was having sex. Don't even mention lube when it came to gay sex because I didn't even know that existed until I was 21. Everything was baby oil and whatever lotion was around. This only leads to more broken condoms.
The proper way to use a condom:
Check the expiration date on the box and on the condoms.
Check the condom for air bubbles.
Push the condom to the side and tear open. DO NOT OPEN WITH YOUR TEETH.
Put lube on the inside of condom.
Hold the tip of the condom and roll the condom onto the erect penis.
Roll the rest of the air out of the condom.
After ejaculation withdraw penis.
Roll off the condom and tie the end.
I suggest putting the condom in your pocket and carrying it with you.
What I would love to happen is when we are in the process of pushing condoms, maybe we should ask the teenagers or adults what are the barriers to them using these condoms. We may be shocked.
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Jermaine Wright is a young, black, bisexual father of five who is also living with HIV. Following a period of service in the Army he is now at the Community AIDS Resource and Education Services of Southwest Michigan (CARES) where he promotes Mr. Friendly, a prevention tool used to raise awareness of the stigma associated with HIV. His mission is to reach out to other young black people living with HIV in a safe manner via his YouTube channel, PozLyfe09. For many youth, this is the only place they can go to discuss and share about living with HIV with someone who is open about his status and sexuality. Topics of his videos include: disclosure, dating, fathering a child post HIV diagnosis, passing on the virus, barebacking while HIV positive and more.
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