Get Healthy Carson City: Battle Born, Battle Ready

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Nevada Day is this weekend in Carson City, and the annual celebration of statehood draws thousands of people to downtown Carson City for fun and revelry. Invariably, the festivities involve imbibing alcohol, especially the signature Bloody Marys that are readily available to celebrants who are “of age.” One issue, identified by Carson City Health and Human Services, was the well-established link between over-consumption of alcohol and poor decision-making, particularly in the area of sexual activity.

“We want people to have a good time, but we want them to be safe. We want them to be protected,” said Frances Ashley, who’s a Treatment Adherence Counselor for the Ryan White Program. To that end, Carson City Health and Human Services launched a campaign to distribute free condoms through participating bars in Carson City. In the campaign’s first year in 2015, more than two thousand condoms were distributed at eight participating bars.

“Last year, the Battle Born condoms were well-received,” said Dustin Boothe, Division Manager for Epidemiology and Environmental Health at Carson City Health and Human Services. “The majority of the establishments that participated were excited to take part again this year, and the customers really seemed to appreciate it.” So successful was the condom distribution campaign that it was revived for the Rockabilly Riot in June and will take place once again at this year’s Nevada Day celebration.

With the theme ‘Battle Born, Battle Ready,’ Carson City Health and Human Services encourages residents and visitors alike to be prepared for sexual encounters and to always use protection. The campaign aims to increase awareness about the importance of practicing safer sex with every partner, every time.

Condoms prevent sexually transmitted diseases, not just HIV. Chlamydia is one of the most frequently reported conditions in our community, and often, those who are infected show no symptoms. “From a disease-prevention standpoint, we’re hoping that people will use these condoms to reduce their risk for HIV, obviously, but also to prevent other more common diseases, like chlamydia and syphilis,” said Ali Garcia, who works as a Disease Investigator at the Health Department.

Condoms will be available at participating establishments throughout Carson City this week. In addition to regular condom use, Carson City Health and Human Services encourages everyone who’s sexually active to discuss STD testing with their healthcare provider. Testing is available at our Long Street clinic location, and an appointment can be made by calling 775-887-2195.

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