By ANGELIN YEOH
IT IS probably hard enough to get young people talking about sex, let alone about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that could come with having unprotected sex.
“Young people are most at risk of (contracting) STDs due to their low awareness on the diseases, the lack of prevention as well as biological factors. According to World Health Organisation, among the 448 million new STD cases that occur in men and women throughout the world every year, there are people aged as young as 15 (in that group),” said Nikhilesh Kalra, Reckitt Benckiser Malaysia and Singapore strategic commercial director.
The startling figures prompted Durex to start a movement to inspire young Malaysians to be more pro-active about their sexual well-being.
“First of all, young people themselves should be equipped with STD knowledge. Next, they should spread the knowledge and encourage their partners and peers to do the same. Armed with the knowledge, young people will take steps to protect themselves against STDs and will know the means to seek medical advice if they are infected with STDs,” said Nikhilesh.
Recognising the difficulty they had in getting young people to talk about sex, Durex decided to take a different approach. Instead of talking, young people were invited to put their words into rhyme and rap against STDs.
According to Nikhilesh, through it’s on-ground out-reach activities, Durex Rap against STD “is an essential campaign to help spread the awareness of STDs.”
In addition, the campaign also expands its awareness through digital platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.
“The campaign inspires young people to take pro-active action in understanding STDs and encourages them to spread the message in a creative way.”
Durex invites young people to have a go at spreading the awareness of STDs through a rap video. Participants are given 30 seconds to rap their message and their video is available for public viewing on Durex’s official YouTube (youtube.com/user/durexmalaysia) and Facebook (facebook.com/durexmalaysia) pages.
The campaign has also managed to garner participation from local celebrities and prominent social media personalities.
The approach taken by Durex to raise awareness on STDS has been “effective” according to the executive director of Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM) Yeoh Yeok Kim.
“Young people are more inclined to seek and express themselves in the digital atmosphere. We hope this will drive action and make an impact amongst young people,” said Yeoh.
Yeoh added that “peer education is a powerful method to drive awareness and change.” She also strongly encouraged young people to take part in the campaign and spread the message through their own creative initiative of rap music.
To date, Durex Rap against STD campaign has received over 250 videos (equivalent to 2160 seconds of rap). Nikhilesh hopes the campaign will continue to send its message to young Malaysians.
“Over the recent years, various efforts and discussions have been seen to take place to improve sex education in the country by parties such as NGOs and the government. To keep the momentum going, we trust that everyone has to play a role.”
Nikhilesh added that Durex will always be looking for ways to make positive changes in the area of sexual and reproductive health, especially among the youth.