Editor, Daily Nexus:

Two years ago at my family reunion, my 16-year-old cousin confided in me that she was dating the boy across the street without her parents’ knowledge. Three months later she was pregnant. She had her child and eloped to Reno with her child’s father. Currently, she is 18 and seven months pregnant with her second child. As a peer health educator, trained in sexual health, I want to grab her and scream “Birth control! Condoms! Norplant! Whatever it takes!”

Since it is too late for my own family, I turn to you, my fellow students of UCSB. The goal is to enable all students to be in control of their own sexual activities. The point is to prove that we may be sexually charged young adults, but we are sexually charged young adults with enough sense to think of our future at the same time. There is too much at risk not to.

Safer sex deals not only with preventing unwanted pregnancies, but also with preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The most recent statistics from our own Student Health Center show that the human papilloma virus (HPV), also known as genital warts, is the number one STD on our campus. An amazing 75 percent of UCSB women have genital warts, and 3 to 9 percent do not show symptoms at all but are still able to transmit the virus through skin-on-skin contact. HPV is a virus, so it never actually goes away, but it can be treated and it may go into remission where it is not contagious. Other popular STDs include herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea.

In order to protect ourselves from unwanted pregnancy and STDs we have to be prepared to use prevention methods. The most effective method for protecting against STDs is the male condom with spermicide. Spermicide contains Nonoxynol-9, which has been shown to kill some sexually transmitted viruses. As for birth control, condoms are 86 percent effective against pregnancy. Birth control pills and other oral contraceptives are estimated at 99 percent effective. The Student Health Center has a ton of safer sex options for you and your partner to chose from.

On Tuesday, May 22, the sexual health peers will be putting on our annual Safer Sex Fair in Storke Plaza. The fair promotes all safer sex practices. Peers will be at hand to answer any of your safer sex questions. Anything from “How effective is a Norplant?” (99 percent) to “Does jumping up and down after sex get the sperm out?” (No) can be answered. And while you are there, why not play a game of “woody bowling” or “condom darts.” Also, keep your eyes peeled for sexual health peers in bright orange shirts passing out free condoms during our CONDOM ALERT on Monday, May 21.

So this is my call to you, UCSB: Empower yourselves! Be in control of your body, your health and your future! And go to the sexual health fair (there will be free condoms). Even if you are one of the 17 percent of UCSB students not having sex, you could always send a few condoms to your cousins, just in case.