South Carolina ranks seventh in the nation for sexually transmitted diseases. The Lowcountry makes up nearly 25-percent of the state’s HIV/AIDS cases, according to DHEC.
World AIDS Day is Saturday and there’s a push for people to get tested.
Talking about prevention and safe sex can be uncomfortable for a lot of people, but an event at the College of Charleston Thursday night broke through stigmas and made the condom a fashion statement.
“It takes the icky factor out of condoms. We’re trying to make them kind of cool,” said Asia Rivers.
Rivers is on the committee for the Charleston Area World AIDS Day. She brought "Project Condom" to the College of Charleston, a fashion show featuring five designers, each tasked with creating one garment of condom couture.
It’s a playful take on a serious message.
“Condom usage is nothing to be afraid of and we really just want to promote safer sex and be responsible if you do decide to have sex,” Rivers said.
The show caught student’s attention.
“It’s very interesting, I’ve never heard anything like it,” said Mackenzie Williams, a freshman. “I honestly don’t think we learned much about it in school either, like we weren’t taught a lot of stuff, we just know the basics.”
Local jeweler, artist and designer Jennifer Williams was up for the challenge, although it was not a textile she is used to working with.
“I was like we’re going to do this, you’re going to dress and drag and we’re going to make a condom dress, so it was awesome,” she said. “It took me a long time, this is 900 condoms or more sewn every single one because the fabric needed to be stretchy so it could flow more, so I had to sew every single one of them.”
Southern states account for more than 50-percent of HIV cases. But, it’s no longer a death sentence, prognosis and treatment is promising thanks to the development of new drugs, which is why health officials urge people to get tested and know their status.