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For college students, a focus on safer sex

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1998 - Summer


Every fall incoming freshmen can expect invitations to one of 36 safer-sex workshops held during their first week of school. Also offered at cultural houses, fraternities and sororities, the workshops are led by 27 peer educators who talk about the risks of unprotected sex, which include sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Overseeing the program is Sally Rinaldi, R.N., M.P.H. '82, who coordinates health education programs for Yale University Health Services.

“Mostly we talk about why students need this information, why it is important,” Ms. Rinaldi says. “You may not need it today, but you might need it down the road. Even if you feel you don't need the information for yourself you might need it for your roommate or your friends.” She relies on health advocates among graduate students to inform their peers, who are more scattered in housing.

Every year, health educators hand out about 40,000 condoms to graduate and undergraduate students. Undergraduates can get them from freshmen counselors or peer educators. On Valentine's Day the program gives away safe sex kits which include condoms, lubricant, information on how to use them and information on abstinence.

“We always include information about abstinence,” says Ms. Rinaldi. “There are people who are sexually active and people who plan to abstain. It's not always the same for everyone.”