Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bar-coded condoms passed out in Wash. colleges, universities

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest recently handed out 55,000 bar-coded condoms to western Washington colleges and universities.

It was part of the "
Where did you wear it" campaign, designed to promote safe sex.

Users scan the bar-code with their smart phone. This action takes them to the "Where did you wear it?" website, allowing them to "check in."

But the question being raised now is this: Is this over the top, or is it actually promoting safe sex?

The latter was the goal when Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest handed out its condoms in western Washington. So far, they have had more than 12,000 "check ins" on the website.

"The overwhelming number is, like, 82 to 92 percent have had the conversation with their partner," said Kristen Glundberg-Prossor at Planned Parenthood. "And they're talking about condoms."

And that's the point of the "Where did you wear it?" campaign. The campaign is exactly what it sounds like: people who use the condoms with a barcode can either scan the code with their smartphone, or go to the website to check in. On the site it asks users their location, age, gender. It asks why the condom was used and even how the act went and what type of room or facility it was in.

"We're having some fun with it," said Glundberg-Prossor. "But the target demographic -- which is that college student, 18 to 30 group -- they are really having fun with it ... and really liking it."

The goal is to make it seem normal, even cool, to talk about having safe sex.

"Our Latina girls are getting pregnant really young," said Victor Mena, a candidate for student-body president at Portland State University. "So we obviously are more likely to say it's OK."

But others think it will just promote sex: safe or not.

"I think it's promoting it, even if they're keeping tabs on where it happens," said Mona Syeda, a candidate for P.S.U. student-body vice president. "I still think it's a way of promotion more than anything."

Two different opinions on whether smart phones can lead to smart sex.



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