Safer sex campaign slips into nightclubs

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By Vanessa Thomas

A woman wearing a tight, low-cut, lace dress reaches over the bar to grab her beverage from the bartender at Studio 69. 

At the other end of the Bathurst Street nightclub, John Lee’s eyes study her every move.  “Sleazy outfits like that make me think about sex,” said the 28-year-old.

He means safe sex, if the Safer Sex on the Urban Scene campaign is having any effect.  Volunteers from U of T have teamed up with the Toronto Public Health department, working Toronto nightclubs all month, handing out condoms and information about safer sex.  The campaign wraps up this Saturday.

“Some people may feel uncomfortable coming into an STD clinic, so this makes information and condoms readily available,” said Mickey Cirak, a volunteer coordinator at the University of Toronto’s sexual education and peer counseling centre.

Kim Martyn, sexual health educator with Toronto Public Health, said targeting clubs is the ideal way to reach young people.  “When you combine music and young people, drinking, tight dresses and all that stuff, it’s a very sexual environment.”

Martyn points out that the average age for contracting the HIV virus is 23, and the highest rate of unwanted pregnancy is among women aged 19 to 25.

“Alcohol at clubs removes some inhibitions and people may take more risks than they normally would,” said Dr. David Lowe, of Ryerson’s Health Centre.  “Bringing the message of safe sex directly to the people is much more likely to work.”

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