City's "Sex it Smart" campaign reaches out to university students

by Jasleen Singh, Carleton Univ. School of Journalism

Valentine's Day is just days away and volunteers from Ottawa Public Health were at the University of Ottawa Tuesday morning to ensure young love-birds are playing it safe.

They were handing out not only Valentine's Day cards, but condoms and pamphlets on healthy sexual relationships as part of their "Sex it Smart" Campaign.

Initiatives like these allow students to learn about how they can reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections like Chlamydia and gonorrhea.

The campaign is especially important considering a recent rise in the number of diagnose cases of gonorrhea in Ottawa.

According to the city, the cases have almost doubled over the past year. People between the ages of 15 and 29 accounted for 75 per cent of Chlamydia and gonorrhea cases in Ottawa in 2013.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Isra Levy said their "Sex it Smart" campaign targeted at youth who are at an age where they are exploring physical relationships.

"University campuses are really a wonderful place for us to partner with the health services on campus and really promote the notion that you can take control of your sexuality," said Levy.

Zhaida Uddin, the supervisor of the sexual health centre at Ottawa Public Health said gonorrhea often goes undetected.

"Chlamydia and gonorrhea are STDs that are easy to get," she said. "There are often no symptoms, so people don't realize they have them."

Ottawa Public Health staff encourages the public to visit the "Sex it Smart" website for information about getting tested.

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