Vox workshop examines STD prevention

Vox, the Voice of Planned Parenthood, held a women’s sexual health workshop in Eickhoff Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 12. The workshop drew a small crowd of nine, all but one were women.

In addition to promoting sexual health and awareness, Vox attempts to stay current on legislative and political issues relating to sexual health and share the information with the campus community.

As the workshop waited for its guest speaker, Laurence Ganges, assistant commissioner of the Division of HIV/AIDS Services in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and senior Jackie Cornell, Vox president, held an open forum for questions and comments from the attendees.

The discussion that ensued was filled with questions and personal testimonials on issues ranging from the difference between emergency contraception and the abortion pill, and the use of female condoms.

The conversation was filled with second-hand stories that the individuals heard about experiences with different forms of birth control and their possible side effects.

While Cornell prefaced her impromptu talk with a disclaimer that she isn’t a health professional, she provided what information she had on sexual health issues, and suggested further materials for the crowd to examine, including the movie, “If These Walls Could Talk” and the book, “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”

Half way through the workshop, Ganges arrived, and began his remarks by challenging the one man in the audience to explain how to use a condom.

His talk focused on the importance of awareness and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases through the use of condoms and other forms of protection.

“Is it more important to be comfortable, or is it more important to be safe or safer?” Ganges asked.

Ganges also stressed that education is key to getting college-aged people to develop good sexual health habits that would become second nature in the future, as students reached the 25 to 29 age range where there is a large risk of HIV infection.

Sexual health is even more key, Ganges said, since New Jersey is fifth highest in the nation in the amount of infected individuals and that 68 percent of people in New Jersey with HIV later die from it.

Ganges added that one-third of HIV patients in New Jersey don’t know they are infected, so making smart choices about choosing sexual partners is of critical importance.

Vox holds educational worships during the year, and is affiliated with the Planned Parenthood clinic on campus.