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Speaking of Sex: Safer Sex Express provides free sexual health products to IU students

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For students, it can be embarrassing or uncomfortable to purchase sexual health items, especially in a society where sex is treated as a taboo. During a pandemic, it can be dangerous or nearly impossible for high risk individuals to go to a store and buy these products. 

Safer Sex Express — in partnership with IU Student Government, the IU Student Health Center and the Residence Hall Association — serves as a solution. 

Junior Maddie Whitcomb, a student assistant in the program, said Safer Sex Express is a campus initiative created last semester that encourages safer sex practices among students through free delivery of barrier method contraceptives to any IU-Bloomington student living in the continental United States. The service provides internal and external condoms, dental dams, non-latex condoms, lubricants and informational topics.

Whitcomb and senior Sophie Ideker said they began working as student assistants at Safer Sex Express after being introduced to it through their involvement with the Peer Health and Wellness Program on campus. 

“I started with Safer Sex Express last semester when it was created,” Ideker said. “This semester was really when we began to get off the ground and fill more orders.”

Whitcomb said Safer Sex Express hopes to reach all IU-Bloomington students by making the service completely online, discreet and delivered to students’ doors. 

“Our shipping includes all IU-B students throughout the U.S., so if you are doing remote learning from home or out of state, you are still able to access this program,” Whitcomb said. “All costs are funded through a grant and partnerships with the IU Student Government, the Residence Hall Association and the Student Health Center.” 

I ordered my own package from Safer Sex Express to understand the process as a student on the receiving end.

Indiana Daily Student reporter Taylor Harmon holds a Safer Sex Express package. Safer Sex Express seeks to provide free sexual health products to IU students.

Taylor Harmon

I began by filling out the order form on the Student Health Center’s website, where I was even able to sign up for monthly online newsletters about sexual health. 

Within the next 24 hours, I went to the Sexual Wellness floor of the Student Health Center — I opted for in-person pickup — with my order in hand. It comes in a yellow packaging envelope with your name on it for pickup, or name and address for delivery, Ideker said.

The entire in-person pickup process took less than 10 minutes. 

Per my order, I received one of each product: a dental dam, an internal condom, external condom and personal lubricant. I also received a card that included campus and community resources regarding sexual health, domestic violence, LGBTQ resources and mental health. The back of the card featured a QR code leading me to instructional videos on how to use each of the products in my order. An IUSG sticker was also included to promote the organization.

Indiana Daily Student reporter Taylor Harmon holds the contents of a Safer Sex Express package. Safer Sex Express is in partnership with IU Student Government, Residence Halls Association and the IU Student Health Center to provide free sexual health products to students.

Taylor Harmon

One of Safer Sex Express’ goals is to provide sex education and empowerment to serve as a catalyst for positive sexual health practices, Whitcomb said. 

“It’s purpose is to make our campus a place where students feel safer and more empowered with their sexual health,” she said. 

Ideker said Safer Sex Express also helps combat stigma surrounding sexual health, especially regarding women, people of color and non-binary individuals.

“I want people to know that their sex life is their business and no one else’s,” Ideker said. “Everyone deserves to have resources for a healthy sex life, and feel comfortable with having sex in any way they choose.” 

Speaking of Sex will be an affirming, nonjudgmental space exploring a myriad of topics related to gender and sexuality such as bodily normalization, pleasure-focused sex, healthy boundaries, consent and alternative relationships. You can submit questions via email at [email protected] or anonymously in this form. This column was not written in response to a reader question.

Editor’s note: Advice offered is intended for informational use and may not be applicable to everyone. This column is not intended to replace professional advice.  

Taylor Harmon (she/her) is a sophomore studying sexuality, gender and reproductive health with a minor in theater and drama.

https://www.idsnews.com/article/2021/03/safer-sex-express-sexual-health

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