First-year students at the University of Toronto-Mississauga played Sexual Pursuit, a game the Peel public health department brought Wednesday to the campus as part of its new "What are the odds?" campaign. With the chance to win an iPod, students spun a wheel and faced trivia questions about contraception and STDs.
By the time students are in university, many have had sexual experiences but few have considered the implications of sex to their long-term health, or the health of their partners.
The more sex education, the better, even in university, says Dr. Hanif Kassam, Peel's medical officer of health. "We're not saying don't engage in sex," he said. "We're saying do it safely." The campaign reminds young people that half of pregnancies are not planned, and that not all STDs have symptoms. "There are a lot of sexually transmitted infections that are asymptomatic like chlamydia, sometimes HIV, and certain forms of syphilis," said Kassam.
A survey of Peel high school students found that 29 percent of them have had sex. Of those, 62 percent had become sexually active by age 15. "Kids are having sex at an earlier age but those kids that have sexual education actually engage in less sex," said Kassam. "It's important they can say 'no' to having sex. It's okay to be part of a young culture and you don't have to engage in sex."