Activists Preach Safe Sex at HIV/AIDS Events

An assortment of condoms, dental dams and dildos were sprawled in front of two guest speakers in the lecture hall of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives building. Wednesday night, PUSH Productions held its final event in honor of women’s history month: “One Night Stand for HIV/AIDS.” Guest speakers included Jason Panda of B condoms and Rae Lewis- Thornton, minister and AIDS activist.

The focus of the event was to promote safe sex. “We really wanted to focus on the choices individuals make when it comes to having safe sex,” said Kianta Key, faculty health communication specialist for student health services and event coordinator. “We really just wanted to focus on the element that a lot of people don’t talk about: us being grown- ups and responsible enough to use a condom.”

A series of questions ranging from the AIDS epidemic, religion, race and personal experiences filled the discussion.

“Really and truly, to have sex without a condom, you are putting your life against sex,” said Lewis- Thornton. “You better hope you know what you think you know about your partner.”

Panda said the lack of condom use in relationships comes from a lack of communication between males and females. “A lot of women just don’t feel comfortable speaking to their partner and telling them that they need to use a condom,” said Panda.

Lewis-Thornton agreed, and said it is a widespread myth that using a condom negatively affects the intimacy in a relationship. “The base line of condom use is a denial, trust and a false sense of security that I believe is wrapped into low self-esteem,” Lewis-Thornton said. “The need to be loved interferes with a condom.”

In efforts to stimulate change with condom use in the black community, Panda, Morehouse graduate and co-founder of the rising black owned condom company, brought free samples of his product.

“The condom industry in the U.S. is a billion dollar industry,” Panda said. “Why shouldn’t there be a black owned company when we’re the ones most affected and at risk?”

“It makes me feel good to know that the work I do is not in vain,” said Lewis- Thornton. “I understand that you can’t save everybody but if I can change one behavior then that’s enough.”