Australian Family Planning Association To Distribute Free Condoms to Backpackers To Curb Spread of HIV, STDs
The family planning association FPA Health of New South Wales, Australia, as a part of its "Safe in the Sack" campaign aimed at curbing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, is planning to distribute free condoms in bars, hotels and other locations frequented by thousands of backpackers who visit Sydney, Australia, each year, the Associated Press reports. A study recently released by FPA Health found that almost half of all backpackers engage in casual sex while in Australia, and a Canadian study found that 33% of backpackers who had casual sex did not use a condom the last time they had intercourse (Associated Press, 8/26). Approximately 75% of backpackers assume that hotels and bars will provide information about STDs and contraception, according to the Australian. "Unprotected casual sex places backpackers at particular risk because, as travelers, they often spend time in areas where HIV and other sexually transmitted disease infection patterns are different from those with which they are familiar," Dr. Linda Dayan, director of Northern Sydney Sexual Health Services and head of the sexual health department at Royal North Shore Hospital, said, adding, "Several international studies show that a significant proportion of sexually transmitted [diseases] are acquired while abroad" (Walker, Australian, 8/26).
Posters and condoms will be distributed to backpackers' accommodation services throughout Sydney and the surrounding area during the first phase of the campaign, according to an FHA Health release. Bars and pubs frequented by backpackers also will receive posters, condoms and coasters with the campaign slogan. The campaign materials, which were developed in conjunction with backpackers, carry "straightforward" messages about STDs and condom use and include the telephone number for the organization's hotline, according to the release. "We want the campaign to give two clear messages to the 180,000 young backpackers who will visit NSW this year," Dayan said, adding, "Firstly, that there is a real risk of catching an [STD] while traveling and secondly, that every traveler can reduce their health risks by adopting safer sex practices" (FPA Health release, 8/25).