Several years ago I had the idea to insert condoms into issues of Boise Weekly. I thought it would be a profound way to get readers' attention about the importance of condom use in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases--particularly HIV and AIDS. At the time, however, I could not find anyone who was interested in my pet project despite pitching the idea to several potential partners.
Last summer I ran into Duane Quintana, the executive director of A.L.P.H.A., Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS. He grew up in a small town in Idaho and was infected with HIV as a teen. Quintana was enthusiastic about my idea, and we have been working to accomplish this goal for the last nine months.
The condoms were donated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which also sponsored the costs of this project. AHF is a global organization that supports the work A.L.P.H.A. is doing in Idaho--work that often goes unnoticed. A.L.P.H.A. volunteers contributed more than 2,000 hours to manually prepare the postcards to which the condoms are attached. Our printers in Odgen, Utah, manually inserted a card into every copy of BW. Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to make this possible. This is the largest distribution of condoms ever by A.L.P.H.A., and the largest in Idaho history.
Distributing condoms in such a public way will not be without controversy, but it is an important way to address an issue that often goes overlooked by people who don't think they are affected by HIV/AIDS. Condom use is important. People have sex and will continue to have sex, and condom use is the only way to prevent HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It's important to note, too, however, that HIV and AIDS are not diseases specific to certain communities: 13 percent of positive HIV and AIDS cases in Idaho are among individuals identifying as heterosexual. What better way to get people talking about condoms and why they are important than providing one to every Boise Weekly reader?
There will be critics and controversy over this initiative, but it's dialogue I think is important to have. However, I am out of town until Sunday, May 1, so hold your temper until I return. The staff of Boise Weekly should not take the hit on this one. It is all on me, and I can now cross "condom insert in BW" off my list. I will be happy to hear from you when I return. To learn more about A.L.P.H.A. visit alphaidaho.org.