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Condom campaign launched at World AIDS Day event
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2015-12-01

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To commemorate World AIDS Day, the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) unveiled its Chicago Wears Condoms campaign in collaboration with the Mikva Challenge Dec. 1 at the Roosevelt Red Line station.

The event also featured a press conference, condom distribution and the unveiling of CDPH's 2015 HIV/STI Surveillance Report. According to the report, this is the 13th consecutive year that new diagnoses of HIV has decreased in Chicago.

CDPH employees and Mikva Challenge students distributed approximately 40,000 condoms to commuters at five "L" stop locations and six of Chicago's community colleges throughout the day.

To get the word out about the campaign, CDPH teamed up with Serve Marketing to create ads from Mikva students' original concepts.

Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago Fashion Design program students were also on hand to showcase dresses they created out of condoms. Students designed the dresses to help raise awareness for Chicago Wears Condoms and they wore them at train stations to support CDPH World AIDS Day condom distribution.

Dr. Julie Morita ( CDPH commissioner ), Gary Mueller ( Serve Marketing founder and volunteer creative director ) and Mikva Challenge students Heaven Johnson ( Lindblom Math and Science Academy ) and Daniel Mercado ( Mather High School ) were the featured speakers.

"World AIDS Day is an important celebration of people who are living with HIV and a memorial for those who've died of AIDS," said Morita. "What we've done in the health department through our annual HIV/STI Surveillance Report is highlight our progress in reducing the rates of HIV and other STI's. The report shows that the work we're doing to make resources available in communities across the city is paying off.

"The Chicago Wears Condoms campaign is a great example of this. The fact that this was driven by youth makes it all the better. Chicago continues to make real progress in our fight against HIV and STI's because of a coordinated and collaborative effort. These initiatives build on our past successes and will help ensure every resident has the information and resources they need to stay healthy."

"The goal of this campaign is to create a narrative around the importance of wearing condoms and having safe sex," said Mueller.

"Too often we see adults with good intentions create ads to help teens and they aren't affective due to the lack of teen involvement," said Mercado. "Chicago Wears Condoms is different because it was created by teens. Before I started working with Mikva, I didn't know that a lot of students cared about public health in Chicago.

"We came together and talked about becoming more educated about sexual health at our schools including the fact that students should have access to condoms and STI tests. After those discussions we decided that a campaign was needed to get this information out to the public. That's how Chicago Wears Condoms was created."

"A lot of ads shame teens for having sex but the Chicago Wears Condoms campaign is putting the issue in a positive light," said Johnson. "With the launch of the campaign and new sex education courses CPS students are receiving, the amount of knowledge students will have about sexual health will be improved and misinformation will be lessened. The Chicago Wears Condoms campaign will encourage people to have open conversations about positive sexual behaviors and erase the taboos and negative stigmas associated with teens and sex."

See www.chicagowearscondoms.com for more information .

To read the report, visit www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/info_stats_reports/previously_releasedreports.html and click on the first report image or for a PDF version visit www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/HIV_STI/HIV_STI_Surveillance_Report_2015.pdf .


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