Health/Fitness :: HIV/AIDS

Condoms Are Cool

by Daniel Scheffler
Contributor
Monday May 7, 2012
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Everybody knows you should wear a condom. We’ve heard it, we’ve heard it again, and we’ve ignored it. Can condoms completely prevent you from contracting HIV/AIDS? No, but they certainly can help.

So in tune with the current flavor of social media, the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) have launched a "check in" for when you’ve had safe sex. Armed with a smart phone and a QR coded scannable condom, users can check in the manner of Foursquare, and report their location via wheredidyouwearit.com. This is a perfect tool for the modern day condom wearer.

If a nation with two billion people can by 2020 launch a condom specifically for gays called "Spice Up," then condoms are definitely on trend again. India has a rising rate of HIV infections among homosexuals and one of India’s leading condom manufacturers is introducing condoms for the community.

After some serious research done by the National AIDS Control Organization on "gay problems and issues related to sex" some feedback indicated that discomfort was one of the main concerns for not wearing a condom.

Indian homosexuals reported that condoms are designed for vaginal sex and that "gay condoms" for anal sex should contain extra lubrication. Doctors included in this study report that they believed gays would be very favorable toward a targeted product and would respond well. Now that the condom is more comfortable and adds lubrication for easier use, there’s no excuse, right?

Making Condom Use Cool

Historically, people have tried to get condom use to be something that was embraced by the masses. Most recently, condom use has been touted as something "cool" by avatars of pop culture.

MTV tried to make condoms cool with ads like this MTV condom ad, targeted to the bisexual and gay community:



But it only did half the work. Gays are no different to anyone else, and it will take more than one targeted ad to convince a nation of queers to support condom wearing.

Often, HIV/AIDS is contracted during casual sex situations where the status of a partner cannot be assessed, so the degree of risk cannot be deduced. But condoms do have a similar efficacy in gay men as they do among heterosexuals.

So again, sexuality has very little to do with contracting or not contracting, with wanting to use condoms or not.

Among gays, questions about the strength of a condom for anal sex are often brought up, and a team from the City University in London presented data that breakage of condoms, whether from friction or not enough lubrication, is exactly the same as for heterosexual men.

Historically, condoms were designed to reduce the probability of spreading or contracting sexually transmitted diseases. but they have become much more than that -- they’re part of a cultural revolution.

"Any condom user knows the importance of a condom. And there is this fast growing realization that if everyone bought a condom from us, the Sir Richard’s community could help solve a real, global problem," said Jim Moscou.

Condoms have been around for more than 400 years; in Asia, glans condoms, covering only the head of the penis, were discovered to have been used. The Roman Catholic Church has also played a role in the culture of condoms, purely by not address them directly but by suggestions of promiscuity attached to the use of condoms. The Pope’s recent reiteration of this and his subsequent change of heart by allowing condoms if the act can be justified created yet more press for condoms.

Trends in Condom Use in the Gay Community

One specific brand that certainly assisted in making condoms even more accessible, culturally relevant, and trendy is Sir Richard’s Condoms. The company started in Boulder, Colorado, in 2009 and has since inspired the industry with cheeky websites Slut’s Unite, tweedy looking packaging, and a handy, discreet home-delivery service. Their condoms have achieved certification from the accredited American Vegan Association and for every condom you purchase another condom will be donated to a developing country.

"We’re seeing a huge interest from the gay community for Sir Richard’s in the past year. But what’s really inspiring is that people in all demographics are gravitating to us, and it’s not only because of the brand but also because of our mission," said Jim Moscou of Sir Richard’s. "Any condom user knows the importance of a condom. And there is this fast growing realization that if everyone bought a condom from us, the Sir Richard’s community could help solve a real, global problem."

Asking Jim about his brand’s involvement and embrace of the gay community, he says, "We’ve been involved in a lot great Pride events in San Francisco, San Diego, Boulder, and elsewhere. One of the best events has been Aspen Gay Week this winter. We had a blast there, and will be back in 2013."

So whether you’ve bought into the culture of using condoms, the reality, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is that condoms, when consistently and correctly used, are the most effective way to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. It’s just that simple.

Reviews of Favorite Condoms in the Gay Market

Trojan Magnum: When size matters, these are larger than standard condoms

Trojan Mint: Seekers of a fresh scented experience will be pleasantly surprised with these

Kimono: 20% thinner than most condoms for an almost not there experience

Kimono Micro Thin: Even thinner than normal Kimono condoms, for a truly not there experience

Durex Warming Pleasures: Lubrication that wraps warm on contact for more pleasure

Pleasure Plus: The sunglass case makes this the trendy accessory condom and the ribbed pouch gives heightened sensations

Inspiral: Twisted like a seashell for full pleasure

Okamoto Beyond Seven Studded: Strong and durable, but extra thin making for a studded pleasure

Daniel Scheffler is a writer who spends his time in New York, Cape Town and India. Follow him on Twitter @danielscheffler

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