Anyone can become infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including young people. That’s why it’s so important to take precautions before having sex, advises Shannon Froehlich, manager of support services at Positive Living North (PLN) in Prince George.
Froehlich said there are many tips young people can follow if they’re considering having sexual relations, which includes both oral sex and intercourse (vaginal and anal).
“Abstinence is the safest approach. But if that’s not an option, young people should use a condom and lubrication every time they have sex,” said Froehlich. “And young people seem to consider oral sex to be safe sex — but they should be advised that it’s not.”
Just as important, she said, is having a conversation with your partner before having sex. “And don’t drink or do drugs beforehand to prevent careless actions,” said Froehlich.
Young people in northern B.C. are encouraged to visit their local health unit if they have questions about sex or are considering having sexual intercourse. Youth who want to be tested for STIs can visit their family doctor, or they can visit the local Opt clinic, which offers sexual health services including STI testing, birth control counselling, and low cost contraceptives and supplies.
Froehlich said PLN staff can supply youths with condoms and have conversations with them about sex — which will be kept anonymous.
“We can also share information about different STIs, and give them brochures that they can take to their partner to have a discussion about sex,” she said.
PLN, a not-for-profit HIV/AIDS/HCV organization, is a Northern Health community partner, and was a key participant in Northern Health’s award-winning STOP HIV/AIDS education and awareness project. PLN can be reached at three locations in northern B.C.: Prince George at 250-562-1172; Smithers at 250-877-0042; and Dawson Creek at 250-782-5202.
Visit hiv101.ca for more information and to learn about online youth educational options.
This article was first published in A Healthier You, a joint publication of Northern Health and the Prince George Citizen.
About Joanne MacDonald
Joanne MacDonald is a communications officer at Northern Health where she works on a number of projects, including the STOP HIV/AIDS program and integrated health services. Prior to joining Northern Health, Joanne worked in the journalism and communications fields in the lower mainland, Whitehorse and Ottawa. She keeps active by taking Zumba and spinning classes. She lives with her husband in Prince George.