No one ever told me. I’m 61 years old and have been a certified HIV/AIDS nurse for the past ten years and never knew February was National Condom Month. I feel so left out and clueless. So in honor of the month, I decided to get up to snuff and to bring you a little condom trivia. Turns out, there are many meaty little tidbits about condoms. Here goes.

According to a Planned Parenthood factsheet, the earliest known depiction of a man using a condom during sexual intercourse is thought to be between 12,000 and 15,000 years old, and was discovered on the wall of a cave in France. It’s estimated that condoms have been used to protect against sexually transmitted infection (STI) since the 16th century and to prevent unwanted pregnancy since the 18th century. Of course, as soon as condoms came into use, they also came under condemnation by moralists. God forbid that humans, endowed with a natural appetite for sexual activity, be able at the same time to enjoy it safely

During World War I, other countries provided their soldiers condoms and successfully prevented an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in their militaries. The U.S., however, stuck in the quagmire of puritanism, opted for a policy of chastity, and experienced an over 75% rate of STIs among its military. Today, we see this same kind of insanity with policies that keep condoms out of high schools, prisons, and drug rehab facilities because there’s no sexual contact going on in any of those places, and if condoms were present, they would most definitely cause sexual promiscuity. Talk about clueless.

The fact is that there is no correlation between easy access to condoms and increased sexual activity among teens. There is correlation however, between easy access to condoms and increased use of condoms among those already sexually active, and a subsequent decrease in the transmission of STIs. This is a huge public health benefit when taking into consideration that approximately fifty-percent of teens become sexually active during their high school years, and that 50% of STI infections occur among young people age 14 to 25 years and could be prevented by encouraging the use of condoms and making them readily available.

The truth is that condoms offer the best prevention of sexually transmitted infections for sexually active men and women. Quite simply, they are little miracles of invention. A great article from Women’s Health, December 2nd, 2014, calls condoms “humble heroes” and “latex lifesavers,” and I have to agree. Enjoy sex, don’t get an infection, what’s not to like?

More trivia: The average sexual act last only seven minutes. The consequences of unprotected sex could last a lifetime and even lead to life-threatening conditions like cervical and anal cancer. News flash: condoms are 98% effective in preventing STIs when used consistently and correctly.

There is a stringent five-step process to become a certified condom manufacturer, and an approved facility needs to repeat the process every three years. Each and every condom produced in a certified facility is tested to ensure reliability. Trojan even has a great how-to video on their website, check it out to make sure you’re “doing it” right. Then roll one on and enjoy National Condom Month.

Debbie Anne is a public-health nurse with the Frederick County Health Department. She has been awarded a Governor’s Citation for her work with Marylanders living with HIV.