By DENIELLE LEONG
However, no matter how icky the topic may be, adults must realise that safe sex is an important issue that needs to be addressed. Without sharing the importance of protecting one’s self during intercourse, the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (and other consequences) among young people will only continue to rise.
Based on the Durex Global Sexual Wellbeing 2012 research, 21% of Malaysians have experienced at least one STI in their lifetime while 27% of our youths don’t know how to avoid STIs.
The research was conducted in 36 countries with a total of 29,003 people aged 18 and above, and the Malaysian results have a base of 506 participants: 241 men and 265 women.
“We also learned that 46% of youths did not use a condom on their first time and this is quite worrying,” said Reckitt Benckiser marketing manager Karin Chan at the recent Choose2Protect talk held at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus, Selangor.
Believing that it’s necessary to address the issue at hand, Durex, with the support of AIESEC Malaysia, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and Federal Reproductive Health Association of Malaysia (FRHAM), launched Choose2Protect, an awareness campaign to promote safe sex and STI preventive measures.
“Youths may think that they know enough, but their knowledge might not be entirely accurate. Through Choose2Protect, we’d like to provide them with proper information on things like protection and STIs,” Chan said, adding that the survey also revealed that more youths learn about sex from the Internet than through conversations with adults.
To bridge that gap, AIESEC Malaysia appointed 30 of its members as peer educators for students to engage with through educational discourse on the issue.
“The advice will mostly come from the experts. The main point of these peer educators is to provide youths with a point of contact to get to the experts since they aren’t as comfortable with speaking to adults directly,” AIESEC Malaysia president Joshua Lim explained.
Aside from engaging the youths through talks and the peer educators initiative, Choose2Protect aims to educate adults on ways to approach the subject with their kids. “The problem with society is that when we actually address the issue, we ask the wrong questions. Even if they are sexually active, we should be asking if they are using protection,” said Nisha Santhar who represented the WAO.
The people behind FRHAM, also hope to spread awareness about the various forms of STIs.
“STIs can be cured, and it is important to be treated or it can affect other parts of your body”, emphasised FRHAM representative Shammila Aruchunan.
“We hope, over time, we can build a better society where people are open to exposing their kids to sex education, and in turn reduce cases of STIs and unwanted pregnancies,” said Chan.
Choose2Protect hopes to organise more talks in colleges around Malaysia. For more information go to www.choose2protect.com.my