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JOIN SMART YOUTH

If you want to make a difference and help others while learning about sexual health and keeping yourself safe, then you need to join SMART Youth! You can come to any of our events around the city or come to one of our movie nights or Open Mic events. Check out our schedule to learn what we are doing or e-mail sync.nyc@gmail.com.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

10 Days of Activism: Day 8

We decided to take the Placemat Campaign to a virtual level for today!
Here is the link to the survey: What I learned about SEX...

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2WH5F5D

Friday, September 7, 2012

10 Days of Activism: Day 7 SMART Youth Leaders


September 7, 2012

Day 7 of our 10 Days of Activism. We can't believe that the time has gone by so quickly. SMART Youth leaders meet every Friday to hang out, share information, learn different topics/issues from experts in different fields and plan new projects for others.  Basically, we live the 10 Days of Activism theme every week.  And today isn't any different.  We have spent the last two hours reviewing all the information we have learned about policies, inequalities, racism, sexual and reproductive rights and female condoms and planning our next three events.  Next up is participating in the First Global Female Condom Day on September 12th.  You can join us in supporting this event by going to Global Female Condom Day!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

10 Days of Activism - Day 6


September 6, 2012

The Basic Facts About HIV/AIDS

As sexual health educators and advocates, SMART Youth facilitates workshops at schools and youth organizations all over New York City. We talk a lot about safer sex, communicating about sex with your partner (particularly about using a condom), and most importantly we talk about HIV/AIDS. The topic is essential to us because SMART is an organization for women and youth living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and we want to make sure that people have the correct information about what is HIV/AIDS to protect themselves and to reduce the stigma (and ignorance) that comes from many of the myths about HIV/AIDS. Since there's no way we can go to every school or youth organization in New York City, let alone the world, we thought we could put up some basic HIV/AIDS information here so that youth are informed and ready to advocate for the right to protect themselves by being able to get condoms, get tested and go see a doctor without parental permission.

 Here's some typical questions that we hear on a regular basis from other teenagers and our responses.

What does HIV stand for?

HIV stands for  
Human (it can't be transmitted from a cat or dog)  
Immunodeficiency (it attacks our bodies natural defense mechanism -- the immune system)  
Virus.

Basically, Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a lot like other viruses, including those that cause the "flu" or the common cold. But there is an important difference – over time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. That isn't the case with HIV – the human immune system can't seem to get rid of it. Scientists are still trying to figure out why.
We know that HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body and that it attacks a key part of your immune system – your T-cells or CD4 cells. Your body has to have these cells to fight infections and disease, but HIV invades them, uses them to make more copies of itself, and then destroys them.
How do you get HIV?
I think it's best if we let the experts answer it.  The response below is posted on aids.gov at HIV/AIDS 101: How do I get HIV?
HIV is found in specific human body fluids. If any of those fluids enter your body, you can become infected with HIV. HIV lives and reproduces in blood and other body fluids. We know that the following fluids can contain high levels of HIV:
  • Blood
  • Semen (cum/ejaculate)
  • Pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum/ejaculate)
  • Breast milk
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Rectal (anal) mucous
HIV is transmitted through body fluids in very specific ways:
During sexual contact: When you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex with a partner, you will usually have contact with your partner’s body fluids. If your partner has HIV, those body fluids can deliver the virus into your bloodstream through microscopic breaks or rips in the delicate linings of your vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or mouth. Rips in these areas are very common and mostly unnoticeable. HIV can also enter through open sores, like those caused by herpes or syphilis, if infected body fluids get in them.
During pregnancychildbirth, or breastfeeding: Babies have constant contact with their mother’s body fluids-including amniotic fluid and blood-throughout pregnancy and childbirth. After birth, infants can get HIV from drinking infected breast milk.
As a result of injection drug use: Injecting drugs puts you in contact with blood-your own and others, if you share needles and “works”. Needles or drugs that are contaminated with HIV-infected blood can deliver the virus directly into your body.
As a result of occupational exposure: Healthcare workers have the greatest risk for this type of HIV transmission. If you work in a healthcare setting, you can come into contact with infected blood or other fluids through needle sticks or cuts. A few healthcare workers have been infected when body fluids splashed into their eyes, mouth, or into an open sore or cut.
Who Gets HIV?
Anybody can get HIV
HIV is a virus; once it gets into your body, it can make you sick. It does so if you are rich or poor; 14 years old or 70; black or white; gay or straight; married or single. It's what you do, not who you are, that puts you at risk for HIV.
Okay, those were answers to the most basic information about HIV/AIDS.  There is still a lot to know! We didn't even start about testing, window periods, condom use, treatment options or populations of people more vulnerable than others... But before you get overwhelmed, know that there are so many places to get more information.  Or you can always come by and hang out with us on Fridays if you happen to be in East Harlem! 
Here's some more resources: 





Wednesday, September 5, 2012

10 Days of Activism - Day 5


September 5, 2012

Basic Anatomy: How Our Parts Fit Together!

Since we are spreading the word about the importance of hearing the voices of young people when it comes to sexual health, sexual education and access to prevention materials (like male and female condoms, birth control and emergency contraception), SMART Youth decided we need to go old-school and remind everyone of the basics -- how do our bodies work?

The male and female reproductive systems can seem like a mystery at times.  Some of the names are strange (the Vas Deferens, anyone?) and sometimes people can't find certain parts (I'm talking about you, Clitoris), but it is all a part of the biology that makes us work.  Since the reproductive system is connected to reproduction (amazing how that works, isn't it), and reproduction is linked to sex, we tend to get embarrassed talking about our body parts.   Regardless of our embarrassment, we need to know about our bodies because it is the first step in making healthy decisions.  Knowing our bodies and being educated about how the reproductive system works is an essential part of sexual health education and part of what this campaign is all about.  So, whether you aced your biology class or never saw "The Miracle of Life", here's a chance to review how our parts work and how they fit together.

First up is the Female Reproductive System:

It looks like a lot is going on down there for women, but since the majority of the female reproductive system is internal we don't get to see most of what is pictured.  For more information on what each part does, check out Your Guide to the Female Reproductive System

Now, on to the Male Reproductive System:



See, the male reproductive system is more complex than a penis and testicles.  To learn more check out Guide to the Male Reproductive System

One important thing to remember is that no one looks exactly the same.  Here's a great video talking about this: 


Regardless if you remember all the accurate, scientific names for our body parts, the most important thing to remember is that in order to stay safe you should see your doctor on a regular basis, use condoms and contraceptives, and get tested if you are sexually active!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

10 Days of Activism: Day 4



September 4th, 2012

Variety is the Spice of Life: Pick a Condom!

Are you bored of the same ol' condom. Just latex. Just protection. It can become a little mundane.
Be bored no more!
There is a condom to suit pretty much anyone's fancy!
Not only are there a variety of brands, but styles, lengths, colors, textures.
If you're looking for a new experience, try checking out a new  condom!
"Sexual pleasure starts with choosing the RIGHT condom for the RIGHT situation." - DKT International

Ribbed:



These guys are pretty self explanatory. They have ribs along the outside of the condom (some just at the head, others down the whole condom). This is supposed to provide extra stimulation for the female within the vagina.
Now ribbed isn't always just ribbed. So many brands have taken this simple idea and added to it.
For example, Trojan's "Intense Ribbed" even provides spacious head room for the penis.
Trojan also has a "Twisted Pleasure" which puts the ribs in a spiral form along the condom.
You can also find "Ribbed Extra Sensitive" "Ribbed Ultra-Thin" "Ribbed plus..."
It's a simple texture so it doesn't make it too intimidating to experiment with.

Extra Sensitive/Ultra Thin:




You might find these guys under a multitude of names, Extra Sensitive, Ultra Thin, Micro Thin, Barely There...
You get the picture.
All this means is that these condoms have been engineered to be thinner than your average condom, but still maintain their strength.
Thinner is supposed to provide extra sensitivity because there is less thickness to the condom between the two bodies.
Pretty simple concept.
So if you're looking to "get closer" without sacrificing protection, check out some ultra thin condoms!

Studded:

These condoms, like the ribbed, have a texture on the exterior. The texture is like... if you can think back to dots candy, like those candies on the paper sheet, surrounding the whole head of the condom (or whole condom depending on the brand).
This texture can be a hit or miss with the ladies, probably depending on the spacing between the dots.
But, you can't knock something you haven't tried!
So if the partner who will actually FEEL the studs inside wants to try this out, then why not give it a go! You can become pleasantly surprised with the change up.

Flavors and Colors:
Self explanatory. All flavored condoms are colored, but not all colored condoms are flavored, so don't be fooled! You can always add your own flavored lubricant to a colored condom (or a regular condom) if you so please.
Flavored condoms are only for ORAL SEX. The sugars in the lubricant are not good for the vagina and can cause a yeast infection... so... let's not go from oral to vaginal with these condoms...
Dental Dams are thin sheets of flavored latex for oral sex on a female. They can also be used for anilingus (oral stimulation of the anus).

Non-Latex:


If you have an allergy to latex, there is still no excuse for you not to use protection!
Many major condom brands have created lines of latex alternatives for their condoms.
They function the same way as regular condoms they are just a different material like: polyisoprene or polyurethane (like the female condom).
Trojan as the polyurethane "Supra", Lifestyles has the polyisoprene "Skyn", Durex has "Avanti" and "Bare"
There are also lambskin condoms... but these don't have the same protection percentage as non-latex alternative and latex condoms, since lambskin is porous and semen can seep out during intercourse.
If you need an alternative condom, check out these!

The list goes on and on for the different types of condoms, especially since new ones are being put on the market regularly. This is great for the experimenting sexual being!
These are the main categories, but there are still a variety of combinations of these that create different sensations and experiences for the user.
Red, Blueberry, Polyurethane, Studded, Twisted, Ultra Thin -
What ever you desire, There's a condom for that.

Monday, September 3, 2012

10 Days of Activism: Day 3



September 3rd, 2012

DOUBLE-BAGGING

The topic of education for today is "Double-Bagging", something you should only do with heavy items at the grocery store.

Double-Bagging has two definitions in the sexual health education world:

1. When two (or more...) male condoms are used on a one penis.



2. When a male condom AND a female condom are used at the same time.


Let's address the issue of definition number one:

I've heard complaints of how one condom is "too tight" on a penis, how is two condoms going to be any better?
It's not. That's the answer.
So I believe this practice is used for "extra protection", or if one condom breaks, you already have another one on and can continue the act.
For real, guys, one condom is enough.
If you're worried about breakage here are some tips:

1. Check the expiration date! If it's old, non-lubricated, most likely it will break.
2. LUBE IT UP! Lubrication decreases friction during sexual intercourse, which increases how much your latex (or other material-ed) buddy can withstand.
3. If you're really going extra hard during sex, there are condoms made to support you for that... they're called "Extra- Strength"

If you use two condoms are the same time you are only INCREASING friction, which INCREASE risk of BREAKAGE!
It's just too much! It is just too much for the penis!
You don't believe me?
Watch me "double-bag" my banana and see for yourself how my less than ripe banana feels about having TWO condoms on!

video

Now an erect penis is firmer than my banana, which only proves my point more. My banana is not sadly a bit misshapen because of the pressure of the two condoms.
Do you really want to do that to your penis?!
I'll tell you what, if I were a penis I would be pretty content with wearing just ONE hat!

Issues with definition number 2:

Seriously? A female AND male condom?
I've already serenaded you with the wonderful powers of the female condom.
Using just a female condom is enough. (Just like using only a male condom is enough!)
You don't need two plastics rubbing against each other during intercourse.
FRICTION, FRICTION, FRICTION!
Sex causes friction between two bodies. Plastics rubbing against each other causes friction.
Too much friction causes breakage.
And that is the major point of the day.
Along with that, it can be harder to guide a male-condom-wearing penis into a female-condom-using vagina.

Message of the day:
One condom is enough. Male OR Female.
Lube it up to decrease friction, and decrease breakage. (Along with other tips given)

Save yourself the discomfort and MONEY (using two condoms at a time, if you are paying for them).

Stay Safe!   

Sunday, September 2, 2012

10 Days of Activism: Day 2



September 2nd, 2012

 Putting the Spotlight on The Female Condom: 



I promise you, once you're done with this blog you'll definitely get on board with Female Condom Initiative.

Female Condoms, you have your pros and cons (like your male partner condoms), but, girl... you're pretty awesome in my book.

1. You can be inserted up to 8 hours before intercourse. If that's too much time, 30 minutes beforehand gives polyurethane condom enough time to adhere to your vaginal walls.
Do you know what this means though? This means if you're having a night out on the town, and you plan to take someone home with you, you're safe and good to go! (sexually at least... but if you're premeditating sex, you've probably planned everything out for the night...)
Freedom from the "caught up in the moment" scandal!



2. The Female Condom has an outer ring and lining that covers the outside area of the vagina.
This is a good thing because some Sexually Transmitted Infections are spread through mere skin-to-skin contact. So, if less skin is exposed during sexual intercourse, the likely hood of you contracting an infection is even more so decreased!

BONUS:  The outer ring on the Female Condom has been proven to provide clitoral stimulation during intercourse. (The act causes friction and the ring to graze against the clitoris in a constant motion.) Can your male condom do that?

EXTRA BONUS: The inner ring of the Female Condom has been said to provide extra stimulation to the penis head during sexual intercourse. Gentlemen, this is for you. The Female Condom is even trying to give YOU some extra pleasure during the act! What a gracious lady she is...



3. The Female Condom is made of polyurethane. (You can find latex ones, but let me tell you why polyurethane is better) This means if you or your partner is allergic to latex... well... this condom is for you!

BONUS: Even if an allergic reaction isn't your issue, polyurethane is a thinner, more elastic plastic. Meaning, this is why it "molds" to the vaginal walls when inserted (at least 30 minutes prior) for sex. This gives a "barely there" feel for intercourse. Want to feel closer without losing protection? The Female Condom is there for you, yet again!

4. The Female Condom is an internal condom (only a small portion lays on the outer skin). It molds to the vaginal walls, and expands (just like the vagina) to encompass the penis.
Do you know what this means?
Who really needs an XL condom NOW?
A larger male need not worry about a male condom fitting too tight, not having enough length, or whatever else big penises complain about. The Female Condom gives the "more than" penis enough liberty to enjoy a protected sexual experience.
It's a WIN-WIN situation! You're good to go, Big Guy!

5. Not only can the Female Condom be used for vaginal intercourse; but if the inner ring is removed, the condom can be inserted into the anus before anal sex.
Whoa. I think our bases are covered.

Female control, some pretty cool benefits, I think I'm sold.

What about you?
If you are, pick up from female condoms from SMART Youth or your local resource center today!

If you were moved and educated by this post you can join the Paper Dolls Campaign! (more info at link provided)
http://www.condoms4all.org/category/s/Leave_your_own_doll_message/17
Create a digital doll with a virtual message about why access to female condoms is important to you!

The Female Condom: How To Use It!

At first sight the Female Condom can invoke the thought, "What the hell do I do I with that thing?"

Well here I am to give you a little more insight than an instruction manual about how to USE the Female Condom!

Here is what your Female Condom package will look like (unless you have a different brand)


On the back of your package you will see something like this:

How sweet of them to give you some instructions right on the package! Glance over this before open the condom up.

Onwards! Like with ANY condom the first thing you should do is... Check the expiration date!
For the female condom it is printed on the side of a side flap. June, 2013... We're good to go!


Once you open the package, here is the treasure you will find!

Now onto the procedure...

1. Pinch the inner ring into a figure 8.

2. Proceed to slide the figure 8 inner ring into the vagina. Once it slides in you will have to adjust to your comfort level by sliding your finger inside the condom (to move the ring and condom upwards), or on the side of the condom already in the vagina.
Here is my hand vagina. I know she's beautiful.
Displayed above I have already slid the figure 8 into my "hand vagina".


This is after I have adjusted the condom more by sliding my fingers into the condom and pushing it until only the outer ring lays beyond.
Which leads to step 3...

3. Adjust the outer ring to lay over the outer lips of the vagina before intercourse.

(Insert Sex Music)

How satisfying!

Now, how do you discard of this contraption?
Easy!

1. Twist the outer ring of the condom (to reduce spillage of the semen)

Oh yeah... look are those lube-y hands... nice.
2. Pull the condom out and toss it in the trash.

Mission accomplished!

Now it may still seem like a daunting task, but practice really does make perfect.
Try to have a few female condoms in your possession if this is a form of protection you are thinking of using. It may take a few times for you to adjust to sliding the condom in (especially if you are someone who doesn't use tampons), and your body to adjust to foreign object.

Good luck!

I'll leave you with my silent (beside the AC running) movie of my step by step use of the female condom.

video



The Female Condom: "Cons"?

Here is a supplementary article to the Second day of the 10 Days of Activism article about The Female Condom.

September 2nd, 2012

"That thing is SCARY!/HUGE!/WEIRD!"

Yes, the female condom can be a bit intimidating at first site, but don't worry! As soon as you get familiar with it, you'll just realize it's just trying to protect you!
(There will be another article on How to Use a Female Condom)
Only a small portion of the condom stays outside of the vagina.
It actually isn't much bigger than a male condom in length, and the width no longer matters once inserted into the vagina.

"I have to hold it in place..." "We tried this position and it just didn't work out..."

Yeah... It's tough to flip this con into something pro. But I do have a few tips to pass along to still make the experience enjoyable.
While the Female Condom may not be as comfortable or efficient for positions that twist you up in knots, it can still be used for pretty much any basic position. (Missionary, Doggy, side-to-side... if that's even a position name...)
The best thing to do is LUBE IT UP! (I even suggest this with male condoms)
Lubricate the penis and inside of the female condom. This will decrease friction and also the female condom "sticking" to the penis.

In the beginning you will have to guide the penis into the condom (by holding the outer ring), or else the penis can insert to the side of the condom within the vagina, thus making the whole protection thing a failure.
You might have to hold the outer ring when changing positions as well. But, you should be good to go after the transition.

For some tricky or hardcore positions the outer ring may slide in to the vagina, along with the motion of the penis. This is when holding the outer ring is best, if you know there will be some full speed pumping or yoga-moves humping. (I know you liked that one.)

Beforehand Insertion

This can definitely be a pro and con. (obviously, it's on the list)
The Female Condom is most comfortable when inserted at least 30 minutes beforehand. 
So if you do want to use while already getting hot and heavy... it may be a long pause.
You're probably better off just using a male condom.
You can always just set the female condom over the penis and insert it that way (if he is already erect and the inner ring is removed).
The condom will not have had enough time to adjust to the vaginal walls, but it is still protecting you to it's full extent.

"It's HOW much?!"

The Female Condom is expensive if you are going out to buy a brand-name box. (Prudence, Trojan, and... I'm not sure what other lines have female condoms already)
The price is so much because the demand is not equal to the price of producing the product.
The FC2 is given out for free at many resource centers though! SMART Youth being one of them!
So if you need a few (for practice if you're new), and then for a trial run.
Come on by! (If you're in the neighborhood that is)
There are plenty of other sources if you are interested in finding them.

Of course the LOCATION of where you are can be a con as well...
If you check out the Day 2 blog, you'll see some information on the Paper Dolls Campaign, which is promoting more accessibility of the female condom!
So now if you really want to get on board, check out that link.

I hope I helped make you feel a little less uneasy about the female condom.
If there are any "cons" that I missed, let me know!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

10 Days of Activism: Day 1



SMART Youth has signed up to do 10 Days of Activism in order to promote Sexual Health Education and Protect Reproductive Rights!
That's what we're all about!

September 1st, 2012

As our first day we designed a quick survey.
Check it out!

What would YOUR Utopian Sexual Health Class be?

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y256VH8

10 Days of Activism Intro



Here is the background information on the 10 Days of Activism Campaign that SMART Youth is a part of until September 10th!

"10DoA Campaign aims to mobilize youth organizations and youth activist to advocate for a rights-based youth centered development agenda at national and global level and bring more partners and countries on board."

 
 When?
1st-10th September 2012
Where?
50 countries from all around the world
 Who can be involved?
Youth-led organizations ,youth serving organizations, youth networks, youth groups and young activits
How?
With the theme  “Nothing for us without us” and in collaboration with young people in 50 countries, we will be rocking the world with outreach and advocacy activities to engage young people and raise their voices around the globe about their needs and rights on both  national and international levels in addition to the mobilization of different social media platforms high-lighting our demands on :
 ·         Meaningful Youth Participation
·         Comprehensive Sexuality Education
·         Youth Friendly Health Services