The sexual health kiosk at the YleXPop event taught young people how to put on a condom in the dark

Teemu Ullgrén / Suomen Punainen Risti
Teemu Ullgrén / Suomen Punainen Risti

The start of the “Summer Rubber” sexual health campaign and the festival season were celebrated at the traditional YleXPop event in Lahti on Saturday. This year, the event also featured a sexual health kiosk that provides the opportunity to pass a condom skills test or to ask any sex-related questions.

“Would you like to take a condom skills test?” volunteer Suvi Sihvo cheerfully asks the group of young people standing in front of the kiosk.

Sihvo is a Finnish Red Cross volunteer doing HIV and sexual health work. She says young people sometimes need to be encouraged to approach the kiosk, but many young people approach on their own initiative.

Soon, there is a queue of young people at the kiosk managed by the Finnish Red Cross, the Family Federation of Finland, the Cancer Society of Finland and the YleX radio station.

Volunteers participate in events and learn new things

Sihvo is a cosmetologist who started volunteering seven years ago. She started by joining the first aid activities, but soon the HIV and sexual health work became part of her activities.

“My biggest reason for joining was that I wanted to help, and that I was looking for a new hobby,” Sihvo says.

Sihvo emphasises that volunteering is above all a nice hobby. Through volunteering, she has been able to participate in various events – from theme days at schools to large music festivals.

There is more to HIV and sexual health work than just educating young people. The volunteers themselves organise various events where they chat with young people. Sihvo says that her hobby has taught her a great deal about matters related to event organisation, for example.

The condom skills test gives confidence for real-life situations

“Yes!” Ina Kämppi shouts when she receives her brand new Condom Skills Certificate.

Sihvo thinks every young person should take the condom skills test, regardless of whether they have started having sex or not. This way, the young person receives vital information about sex and sexually transmitted infections.

The condom skills test includes three different levels: a lightweight test, a basic relationship test and a test in the dark. The lightweight test is completed by answering questions related to sexually transmitted infections. In the basic relationship test, the task is to put a condom on a dildo. Kämppi managed to pass the most challenging level, the test done in the dark. To pass the level, you need to put a condom on a dildo inside a box without seeing them.

The second and third levels of the test make many of the participants giggle. Sihvo says that many participants need to be encouraged to try the third level. Some participants are holding a condom and getting an opportunity to experiment with it for the first time.

“Some don’t want to try putting the condom on because they’re scared they’ll fail, but this is a good opportunity to practice using a condom before having to use it in a real situation,” Sihvo explains.

“Sometimes, the young people are encouraged when I first show them how to put the condom on, and they then follow my example. Afterwards, many of them say it wasn’t that difficult, in the end, and condoms no longer feel intimidating.”

Young people are concerned about sexually transmitted infections

Anu Liikanen, who is also a Red Cross volunteer and works at the sexual health kiosk with Sihvo, says that the most common questions from young people are related to sexually transmitted infections.

Kämppi, who passed the condom skills test, says she was surprised to learn that chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection.

“Surprisingly many young people think that HIV is the most common STI in Finland. Maybe it’s because HIV has had a lot of media coverage,” Sihvo ponders.

She encourages everyone who is interested in volunteering to join the activities. Sihvo says that volunteering is a fun and relaxed hobby that also gives a lot to the volunteer.

“In addition, you get to enjoy the festival atmosphere and to listen to great artists,” Sihvo adds and laughs.

Text: Jenni Latvanen