Health center urges open dialogue on sex
Posted February 16, 2011 at 11:42 pm in News
This weekâs series of Sex Week events, sponsored by the USC Program Board, raises the question of whether USC provides adequate sexual health resources to students during the other 51 weeks of the year.
The answer to this question is located on the second floor of the University Health Center in the Health Promotion and Prevention Services center.
The majority of students that visit HPPS come for the free safe-sex supplies, specifically condoms, and HIV testing, which are free during the month of February, according to Christina Li, an HPPS employee.
âWe like people to come in and talk individually,â said HPPS director Paula Swinford. âBut a lot of the work that we do is making sure that the conversations around sexuality happen where the student is, and making an environment that supports risk reduction and protective behaviors.â
Li said she believes students should take more advantage of HPPSâ one-on-one resources, and worries that many students might not know they exist.
âHPPS doesnât publicize that you can come and talk about sex,â Li said. âThey only publicize that you can come and get HIV testing and that there are condoms.â
The center also offers counseling and a Resource Room where students can read up on sexual health and speak to peer health educators, who have been trained to talk anonymously with students about sex and other health-related issues.
Though more students visit HPPS for condoms and testing than to talk, Li said this does not mean students arenât taking full advantage of HPPS, whose main goal is universal prevention rather than individual intervention.
These efforts include activities like filling condom buckets campus-wide and training resident advisers to be able to have discussions about sexuality with their residents.
Catherine Chan, a freshman peer health educator, said she wishes more students would utilize HPPSâ Resource Room, she also thinks there should be more programming on campus like Sex Week.
âMost people think theyâre going to get judged for talking about [sex],â Chan said. âThatâs why I think programs like Sex Week are good because people can just bring their friends, and itâs not a judgment call.â
Cerise Carleo, a freshman majoring in architecture, said Sex Week is a chance to challenge studentsâ perceptions of sexual health.
â[Sexual health education] is still an issue here because everyone has grown up with different backgrounds,â Carleo said. âI also donât think that it should stop at a certain age. I think you just end up having more questions the more youâre exposed to.â
Emilia Ana Cosma, executive director of Program Boardâs Womenâs Student Assembly, decided to bring Sex Week to USC because she believes that although the health center has a lot of available resources, USC still lacks Â programming related to sexuality.
â[Sex Week] is a great way to talk about issues like safe sex, HIV/AIDS prevention, STD prevention as well as a lot of related gender and relationship issues,â Cosma said. âBut it frames things in a more palatable way to educate people.â
Some of these issues will be discussed tonight at 7 p.m. in THH 119 at a workshop with the WSA and the Center for Women titled âHealthy Sex is Good Sex: Navigating the World of Hook-ups and Dating Violence.â
âWeâve tried to make it as applicable to a wide variety of students as possible, not only focusing on people who are in relationships,â Cosma said. âBut also on people who are dating and just hanging out on The Row and talking about ways to avoid the different things that come up in a real open and honest forum.â