No matter how much students, universities and parents want or not to talk about it, sexuality is an important part of adult life. And therefore can also be a part of our life as exchange students.
In many countries in the world, talking about sexuality is still considered as a taboo, and to be honest, I am not sure that I’d write a similar article in the university international blog in my country.
As exchange students, we are meeting everyday people from all over the world, with different languages, different habits, different cultures.. but also with different way to perceive and live sexuality, and the presence of this taboo is not helping to communicate about these quite important matters.
Sweden has always been for me an example in matter of equality, human rights and open minded people. This is why I am today writing this article. Because taboos around sexuality and the lack of communication can sometimes lead to complicated situations, in every country and every culture.
This lack of communication can lead for example to unwanted pregnancy or to Sexually Transmissible Infections and Diseases (STIs and STDs). Sometimes, because of this taboo, we do not automatically think about using condoms. Sometimes, because of it, we are simply not hearing or understanding a “no”. Sometimes, because of it, we are simply not daring to say it.
With this article, I am not trying at all to give any lessons. Everyone is free to live his/her sexuality the way they want it, as long as it is with respect of him/herself and others. And I’m the last person to judge.
No, what I want to do here, is to give you some keys about where to go and whom to ask about those questions.
Because for me, you should be able to know where to buy condoms as much as where to buy kanelbullar. And you should know where to get HIV tests as much as where to get your GU card.
So for once let’s get beyond the taboo and open doors, for all of you to appreciate your stay here, in all its forms.
Condoms and where to get them ?
Condoms (masculine and feminine) are nowadays one among different ways of contraception but more important the ONLY way to protect against HIV and other Sexually Transmissible Diseases (STDs).
And if I have the chance to consider using condoms as a reflexe, I have seen that it is not the case for everyone, and that as much in my country than among the international community we are here, in Göteborg.
But you know what?!
I have a good news for you, masculine condoms can be found as much in supermarket (usually nearby the cash register) than in pharmacy (where I think you can also find feminine condoms) and I can promise you than in two years of living here I never had any weird glance from anyone in the shop.
For the Swedish brand Profile – that you can find everywhere – the price is usually 52SEK for a box of 10.
So please, remember than condoms should be a reflexe.
And if during the party you figure out you don’t have any, ask a friend. He/She might tease you a bit, but you can convince yourself it is just jealousy. And have a safe sexuality worth 100 bad jokes.
And definitely, spending one night just cuddling is way much better than getting an incurable disease =).
Checkpoint Göteborg and how to get HIV test ?
There is one place in central Göteborg where you can do HIV and Syphilis test for free, in English and anonymously : Checkpoint Göteborg. (http://www.checkpointgoteborg.org/)
Because the idea of having an HIV test is not common in a lot of countries, including mine – even from people having unprotected sex – I wanted to share this address with you.
Checkpoint Göteborg is originally a testing site for HIV and sexual diseases for men and transgender people who have sex with men. Nowadays, it is run by LGBT staff but open to everyone, no matter your sexual orientation or your gender.
They have drop in time every Tuesday evening from 6pm to 8pm. No need to take an appointment. You just have to pass by : Stora Badhusgatan 6
There you will be able to do a HIV fingerprint test, with over 98% reliability. This “rapid” test is pretty simple as a bit of your blood is taken from your finger and put on the test. After 15 minutes you can have the result.
During those 15 min, you are not alone. The person that helped you to do the test stays with you and it is actually an exchange time, when you can talk about whatever you want and ask whatever questions you might have about sexuality or any other subject. And, you have the chance to talk with someone that is here to listen to you and to send you to the right person if the question cannot be answered.
Your “host” will read the test with you, and be with you until you leave. If the test is positive, a special time is booked at the hospital to check with a confirmation test (blood sample and analysis in laboratory).
All the staff there is here to listen to you, to help you, to talk with you. No questions will be asked if you don’t want to, no judgment will be done.
Some other facilities exist for HIV tests such as :
But as far as I’ve seen the websites are all in Swedish.
If you have questions about your sexuality, it is also a way to get into contact with people ready to listen. You can also check on their LGBT organization : RFSL
So if you don’t know where to go : Checkpoint Göteborg
And even if solutions nowadays exist to detect HIV and other diseases, even if treatment are improved for seropositive persons to have lives as normal as possible, please remember that today, no cure exists for AIDS. That one unprotected relationship is enough to change your life completely.
So next time you get ready for a party, take some condoms in your wallet. And don’t hesitate to use them.
As we say in French (and it is quite untranslatable in English but ended out well in Swedish): Sortez couvert ! (Go out protected/well wrapped up/warmly dressed)