Symptoms for 300, please!

This week at Urban Light we played a “Jeopardy”-style game to teach about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

IMG_1010Although sexually transmitted infections are no joke, playing a game and having fun facilitate learning. Jessica had developed a lesson plan and adapted the key messages into a lot of creative questions. These questions became fodder for further teaching points, challenging questions from the participants and great conversation about a topic that we are typically uncomfortable dealing with.

Overall, these guys did pretty well! One guy was so enthusiastic he kept answering for the other team!

One game question: “Which STIs can you get by sharing a bathroom?”   …no, having sex in the bathroom does NOT count as “sharing”.

Another: “When should you change a condom?”  When the condom slips off because it is too big, was one (among other correct ones) answer to that question. We all laughed, but you can imagine how troubling that can be, on several different levels. Please note: this is something to be aware of when donating condoms to other countries. There are different sizes of condoms and different average penis sizes among different ethnicities. Who knew?!? It’s a “sensitive” subject but something that is very real when the “rubber hits the road”, so to speak.

Everyone – youth, women, staff, as well as teachers – will learn something in these sessions. Knowledge is empowering.

Some of the lessons learned included having a better understanding of the incubation time (time between infection and showing of symptoms) and that many infections can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, even if “intercourse” doesn’t occur. Symptoms, or sometimes the lack of them, was another topic that tended to trip them up.

The important point is that in an environment that is open, accepting, and safe, we can talk about anything. This is true for everyone – your family, your patients, your street kids, and people who buy and sell sex.

We’ll be giving this to some local women who sell sex in a couple weeks so it will be interesting to hear their responses and questions!

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