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The rate of condom use Saskatchewan has gradually increased each time data was collected, to 68.9 per cent in 2009-10 from 66 per cent in 2003.
The most recent data collection period corresponds with the launch of Saskatoon Sexual Health’s Wrap It Up campaign, which offers free condoms to businesses and organizations.
Natalya Mason, education and outreach coordinator for the organization, said the results are promising and show a shift in attitudes around safe sex that comes as the result of community-based work.
Saskatchewan has the highest rates of HIV transmission in Canada, primarily attributable to injection drug use, but also intercourse.
The province also has above-average rates of Hepatitis C, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea according to Ministry of Health data.
“There’s been so much work at a community level around reducing some of those numbers,” Mason said. “There’s been some really fantastic campaigns over the past couple of years, and I think that what we’re seeing is the result of a lot of hard work.”
Making information — and condoms — accessible is part of the work, Mason said. Then comes breaking down the barriers around talking about safe sex.
The Wrap it Up condoms’ packages feature cheeky Saskatchewan-themed messaging like “Saskatoon, wanna spoon?” and “Frisky Fiske.”
Mason credits humour as one the best tools for having frank, open conversations about on the subject.
“A lot of community organizations have worked really hard at being open and positive in their approach to safer sex, in their approach to harm reduction,” she said. “I think that that’s a lot more approachable for people, and makes some of these preventative practices a little bit more accessible.”