Ever picked up condoms from the health center? Played penis ring toss on the Russell House patio? Been tested at GYT? Then you may have met Quinyana Brown, UofSC’s Sexual Health Program Coordinator.
HC: What is your role on campus and how did you become involved here?
QB: I am the Sexual Health Program Coordinator, so I work under Student Health Services with a team of health educators grouped together as Healthy Campus Initiatives. We work to further health and wellness on campus, striving for a positive, healthy space for folks to live, learn, play, and be successful. As Sexual Health Program Coordinator, I handle all programming, education, and outreach that the Sexual Health Office does on campus around sexual health, healthy relationships, STI testing, and body image. I’ve been in this role for about 3 years now, and I initially started as a Grad Assistant and have been here ever since!
HC: What are the biggest FAQs that you receive?
QB: I get a WIDE range of questions, spanning from: where do I put it?, to questions as nuanced as I am in a relationship with my partner and we identify differently, how do I navigate this and communicate with them? Every day looks different for me, but I would say the most frequently asked questions are: “Where can I get reliable and affordable condoms?” and “Where can I get tested?”
HC: What events/campaigns do you have planned for next year?
QB: We’ve had a grant for the past year or so allowing us to do a lot of work regarding contraceptive access. We’ve been able to connect interested folks to LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives). We help people who encounter any barrier to care, such as finances, concerns about privacy or parental support. Basically, if a student was interested in any of the products covered by the grant, we could help cover some of the cost of the device and the implantation. We went from a handful of LARC insertions per year to hundreds and we’re working to continue that. Another big thing we’re doing next year is increasing access to testing. What that will look like is meeting students where they’re at to make sure we know what their needs are, know what their barriers are, and working to circumvent and alleviate that. A big concern for students is cost because we have to charge for testing at the health center. What students don’t realize is that a lot of times it’s covered by their insurance, and it’s definitely covered by the university’s health insurance plan. We will also connect students to resources off-campus should that be the best option for them. In addition to that, we’ll also have some programming with regards to body image. We have The Body Project, our NEDA walk, and, last semester, we had the inaugural Southern Smash, which was really cool, and we’d love to keep that partnership going.
HC: What are the biggest concerns that a university needs to consider with regards to sexual health?
QB: You really need to be concerned with what the climate is on your campus. It’s important to foster a culture of sex positivity. Being in the south, sometimes I really do get hassled and get caught up with red-tape barriers related to educating vs. encouraging. Having a sex-positive stance, whether it is through social media or events, doesn’t necessarily encourage, it is setting the stage to make sure students feel comfortable accessing information and services, and know that they’re going to be taken care of and they’re not going to be judged. Another thing from an institutional standpoint is access. One thing that UofSC does a pretty good job of is making sure that the entire campus is connected and able to help students become aware of their resources. Another thing that is very important is for a university to know their shortcomings. Here, for instance, we’re not able to do testing for free, but one way we circumvent that is by working with our community partners and having events where students have access to testing.
HC: What resources are offered through the sexual health office?
Think of us as an education and resource hub. We provide one-on-one, couples, and group consultations. We do a lot of programming and outreach. We give medically accurate, sex-positive information and provide safer sex supplies. We’re able to provide all of that to students for free. We can provide internal and external condoms, flavored condoms, non-latex condoms, different types of lubes (silicone, water-based, and hybrids), dental dams and finger cots or gloves. I like to make sure that students know that supplies used for oral play don’t necessarily fit when we’re talking about penetration. For example, flavored condoms can have sugars which can be an irritant, cause yeast infections or lead to microtears making it easier for STIs to be transmitted.
HC: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about sexual health?
QB: I would say that the biggest misconception is that the goal of sexual health is to encourage or discourage someone from having sex. If you’ve never met me, you might think of me as some old-lady nurse or that gym teacher who’s telling you “don’t have sex or else you’ll die”, or some lunatic trying to get everyone to have sex at all times. I’m really just here to provide guidance and support in any way possible. I like to refer to myself as a ‘preventionista’; if I can help you prevent those negative outcomes related to anything you’re doing in your life regarding sexual health or relationships, that’s what I’ll do. If you’re abstinent, I can help you set boundaries in your relationships. Or, I can talk to folks who have casual sex with multiple partners about how we can keep you safe. Your circumstances aren’t so much my concern as your goal is. Sexual health is fluid, it’s flexible, and it really depends on your circumstances.
You can find Quin on the 1st floor of the Center for Health and Well-Being. The Sexual Health Office is the room with the bowl of condoms!