Sunday, April 19, 2009

Birth Control for Men?

When I spoke to my gyno about the HPV vaccine (Gardasil), she told me lots of men have HPV, yet it's a woman's problem, just like birth control. She was subtly mocking fact that our society deems it a woman's job to take care of her sexual and reproductive health options. This was right when my feminism was getting into full swing, and I remember thinking to myself something like "heck yes!"

These days, Merck, the company that makes Gardasil, has asked the FDA to approve the HPV vaccine for boys and young men. Meanwhile, there is talk of a male hormonal birth control pill.

I asked my boyfriend what he thought about this and his answer really got me thinking. I'm on hormonal birth control now (I love it!), and we've talked about couples splitting the cost (even though my mom covers the cost now). I showed him this post from Erica over at NYC Unrated and Unfiltered, which wonders if women enjoy being in control of their own BC regimens. My boyfriend took issue with the way Erica gets nervous about male BC. He pointed out that currently, birth control requires men in heterosexual relationships to trust their girlfriends to take the pill just as much as it would take women to trust men if this came to fruition.

My initial reaction was that there are more consequences for a woman in the case of a pregnancy - after all, she is the one who carries the child if they decide to have it. But after we discussed it further, I realized that he had a valid point - he trusts me a lot to believe that I'm taking my pill every day. Me getting pregnant would greatly affect his life too - not just mine and my body.

My boyfriend is a really remarkable guy, and I'm sure not all men have this same outlook. But by his logic, I can't imagine any decent man stopping taking his BC pill (if this became a reality) - since I can't imagine stopping taking my own pill. The risk would be too great for me to take. I assume that any thoughtful man would see those risks in a similar way - even if it wouldn't directly affect his body, it could potentially affect the rest of his life.

All this thinking leads me to conclude that male birth control could be kind of cool. Of course, condoms are still awesome, and I'm not sure I'd believe a guy who told me he was on birth control right off the bat, but I think it could a really good thing in certain situations for certain couples. There are already a ton of contraceptive options for women, I think it'd be a good thing for men to have some choices too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Chances are you’ve spotted some tiny teal ribbons around lately, maybe around your college campus, at the doctors or pharmacist, online, or in the newspaper. Those support ribbons are part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The entire month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and today is the national day of action for sexual assault awareness. Staggering statistics emphasize the need to raise awareness about these crimes. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. These frightening statistics make activism all the more necessary.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about sexual violence – primarily sexual assault and rape—and educating the world on prevention. This year’s campaign created by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center is about preventing sexual violence in our work place. According the NSVRC, between 1993 and 1999, 36,500 U.S. employees experienced sexual assault or rape while working or on duty. Sexual violence in the workplace is unfortunately common, and the consequences of an attack not only affect survivors but businesses as well. This April, we hope to send a message about respectful and responsible behavior. Partner with your employer by advocating for sexual assault communication in your workplace.

Planned Parenthood is committed to supporting Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Rape Crisis Service of Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region offers crisis intervention and support services to women, children, and men who are victims of sexual assault. Our 24-hour hotline is available to anyone dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault. RCS is currently recruiting for Rape Crisis Volunteer Advocates. For more information about becoming a volunteer or upcoming trainings, visit the RCS website.

During the month of April look out for the many opportunities to donate your voice and your stories towards sexual assault awareness.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Get Yourself Tested!!

MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation have been partnered in a campaign called "It's Your (Sex) Life" since 1997, to encourage young adults to make responsible decisions about sexual health. Now, Planned Parenthood is joining the fight with the creation of a new campaign - Get Yourself Tested - GYT.The Department of Health and Human Services has designated April STD Awareness Month, so GYT will be working all month long to inform millions of young adults about HIV, other STDs, and related sexual health issues.

The idea of the campaign is to educate young people to the prevalence of STDs, and to encourage dialogue about routine testing. GYT can be used as an acronym in text or IM conversations and help eliminate taboos surrounding STDs. By normalizing these conversations and testing, we hope to slow the spread of STDs among youth. You may have heard this shocking statistic: By age 25, one in two people will have an STD. Furthermore, of the approximately 19 million new STDs contracted every year, most will go undiagnosed.

Misinformation, social stigma, and lack of symptoms stop people from getting tested regularly. Others believe STD tests are given as part of general health care and checkups. This isn't the case, but the tests are easier to obtain than ever. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can now be tested with urine-based tests, and the rapid HIV test only requires an oral swap, and can provide results in 20 minutes. As part of GYT, young adults ages 24 and younger qualify for free testing - All 97 Planned Parenthood affiliates are participating in GYT ’09.

As part of GYT, MTV will be showing programs related to STDs all month. On April 1st, they showed the world premiere of Pedro, the story of Pedro Zamora, a cast member of the Real World who died from AIDS-related complications in 1994. You missed the premiere, but you can watch it online for the next 2 weeks here!

A ton of pop-culture personalities will be appearing in a series of promotions and PSAs on MTV and online, wearing "GYT" on their chests, and getting tested for STDs. You can get involved on Facebook, and even Twitter! Also, you can text your zipcode to the GYT mobile companion, #49809 to see your nearest testing location!

Be sure to check out the GYT09 website for further information and some cool videos and programs. And be sure to go out and get tested!