No lovin' without the glove in 6th Condomsense campaign explains uses of your fireman's hat By Chris Woodall Call it what you like — joy balloon, fireman's hat, pocket pal, rubber, or safe — Condomsense campaigners want you and your sexual partner to use a condom. The sixth annual rush of Whistler's participating bars and staff housing, Dec. 12-18, has a very real need: sexually-transmitted disease is at epidemic levels, depending on what kind of STD it is. "Chlamydia is an epidemic in Whistler," says public health nurse Sue Clarkson. The bacteria can lead to infertility and arthritis if it progresses enough. Although chlamydia can be cured, other sexually transmitted diseases like herpes are yours for life. Then there's the risk of getting HIV, leading to AIDS and possibly death. "It's really serious," Clarkson says of the number of positive blood tests that come back to the public health nurses from Whistler people who maybe weren't careful enough in their relationships. To remind people what's at stake, a score of Condomsense volunteers will be visiting Savage Beagle Bar, Maxx Fish, Tommy Africa's and Garfinkel's this week to hand out condoms. The volunteers will spend more time at staff housing complexes for Whistler/Blackcomb and some hotels staffs to hand out condoms, but also to talk a little but about STDs and to answer any questions that may come up, Clarkson says. "The idea of the campaign is to target 19-25 year-olds," Clarkson says. "In December, everything is brand new. There's a new ski season, people are new to town and are starting relationships." The bar scene won't give the Condomsense crew much time to do more than hand out condoms, Clarkson admits, which is why this is the third year for venturing into staff housing complexes. "You'll have 200 condoms and in 10 seconds they'll be gone!" The campaign used to be called Condomania. "People know about the diseases, they know what condoms are all about, but when they've had something to drink or are in the heat of the moment, they don't use them," Clarkson says. "This is a friendly reminder." Several sponsors other than the four Whistler bars have also come into the program, Clarkson says, including Misty Mountain Pizza and Whistler's pharmacies, offering sales on their lines of condoms. As one young adult says in a video shown to Condomsense volunteers during their training: "You gotta say there's no lovin' without the glove in."