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Here’s the coverage in Iqaluit’s major English language paper of our sexual health campaign launch.  Happy Sexual and Reproductive Health Day!

Nunavut campaign urges lovers to wrap it up

“Sometimes gimmicks are what get people to pick up a condom”

CHRIS WINDEYER

Condoms in specially-designed wrappers are scattered on a table for the launch of the Nunavut health department's sexual health campaign,
The health department is unrolling a territory-wide blitz to promote condom use in an effort to cut Nunavut’s sky-high rate of sexually transmitted infections.The campaign, called “I Respect Myself,” features posters, temporary tattoos, and a website, http://www.irespectmyself.ca, which features sexual health information in four languages.“We believe that when people respect themselves, they’ll also want to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections,” said Isaac Sobol, Nunavut’s chief medical officer. The campaign also features condoms wrapped in “match packs” carrying safer sex tips. Some of the rubbers are flavoured, with a new flavour every month. February’s is strawberry, while March’s is mint. The posters feature models in varying states of undress and the branded condom packages also include coloured condoms. Jenny Rand, a community health development coordinator based in Cambridge Bay, said the goal is to get people’s attention when it comes to safer sex. And she said one of the reason for including flavoured condoms is to help drive home the message that unprotected oral sex can be risky too.

“Sometimes gimmicks are what get people to pick up a condom,” Rand said.

Rand said the website materials place an emphasis on healthy relationships, sexual health and information on sexual myths. Respect, she said, is key to healthy relationships. “Respecting yourself means making decisions that are healthy and right for you,” she said. Condoms are already available for free from every hospital and health centre in the territory. But their use has been spotty, Sobol admitted. He said the health department is working on a survey of attitudes regarding condom use. In the meantime, the department will push ahead with the new campaign, and work to make condoms available through Nunavut’s schools. Sobol said participation by schools is optional, but added “I don’t think we’re going to get any backlash on this.” Health officials here are practically ready to throw condoms from rooftops because the rate of sexually transmitted infections in Nunavut is so high. Sobol said Nunavut reported more than 1,000 cases of Chlamydia in 2008, an 8.7 per cent increase over 2006. Nunavut has the highest rate of Chlamydia in Canada. Gonorrhea cases skyrocketed 200 per cent between 2006 and 2008, though Sobol didn’t give an exact number of cases. But a report from the Public Health Agency of Canada showed 149 reported cases of the disease in 2007.Sobol said condoms are the most effective way to prevent the spread of STIs and should be used during every sexual encounter. He also urged Nunavummiut to get tested for STIs every time they change sexual partners.

Article originally posted at Nunatsiaq News online:  http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/120210_nunavut_campaign_urges_lovers_to_wrap_it_up/.

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