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Two condoms lay on a piece of paper and form a heart on Sunday, Feb. 11. 

Barrier Necessities, the simple bare necessities

Student Health and Counseling’s (SHAC) Barrier Necessities program aims to make condoms, dental dams and lubricant accessible to students while simultaneously providing education around safer sex practices.

“The mission for this program (is) to help provide students with free prophylactics and to make it as convenient as possible, really meeting the students where they’re at,” Lianna Maldonado said – SHAC Health Promotion and Education Coordinator.

Currently, the program has 29 locations, along with latex-free materials available at SHAC’s Health Promotion office. The program tries to be accessible and comprehensible to students, Maldonado said.

Part of Maldonado’s goal for the program, she said, is to add more locations on campus. Currently, each location is refilled once a week.

“We want to make (the locations) as accessible as possible. Big focal points of a site, for example, (are) on front desks. (This is) where students are entering the premises or where students’ eyes are drawn to our setup,” Maldonado said.

University of New Mexico senior Liz Olivarez, Peer Educator and Student Advocate, said that she had not realized how many different barrier methods there were until she started working at SHAC Health Promotion.

“I find the SHAC (Health Promotion) does its best to be as inclusive and as comprehensive as possible, and that is definitely underscored with our Barrier Necessities program,” Olivarez said.

UNM sophomore Joseph Baros, Outreach Health Assistant and Insurance Navigator, explained that one of his main goals with the program is to provide more education on sexual health, as well as make the program more approachable.

“It’s very uncomfortable for people, but the truth is it shouldn’t be because it’s health. Anything regarding health should not be something you feel uncomfortable talking about,” Baros said.

Through the program, the team hopes to help promote inclusive language, Olivarez said, and to expand its range of supplies to best serve the student population.

“We also work around creating inclusive language as well whenever we talk about sex. We try to make the environment inviting for students because we understand that sex and things of that nature can be really hard for people to bring up with us,” Olivarez said.

Each location has an acrylic box that holds the supplies, as well as graphics encouraging students to visit Health Promotion if they cannot find what they need or have questions. A big part of his job, Baros said, is making supply runs each week to refill the stations.

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“This last semester, we’ve definitely seen a spike in students coming into our offices. Once they come into our offices, we give them a little baggie and they can pick out (any) barrier methods they might need,” Maldonado said.

In the future, Baros said he hopes to make the supply runs more visible to increase program awareness on campus.

“We’re looking to promote more branding when we do the condom runs. I think we’ve had the idea that other universities use condom fairies,” Baros said. “We’re trying to make it more noticeable so that when students see us, they can make that mental note.”

The team works together on a spreadsheet to figure out what times supplies at each location will run low and prepare for them.

The program began in October 2011 with the aid of grant funding. Barrier Necessities is now fully funded by SHAC, according to Maldonado.

“SHAC has taken over the funding because it is a necessity to provide students with barrier methods – (ones) that can help lower risk and help students with the accessibility issue,” Maldonado said.

Marcela Johnson is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @DailyLobo.

Marcela Johnson

 Marcela Johnson is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo, and the editor-in-chief of Limina: UNM Nonfiction Review.  

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