FARMINGTON — Two factors often hinder the process of buying condoms on the Navajo Nation — distance and cost.
The Rez Condom Tour is addressing those issues this summer by visiting four communities on the Navajo Nation and handing out free condoms.
The tour, now in its second year, will visit the flea market in Shiprock Saturday to distribute both male and female condoms to individuals who stop by the Rez Condom Tour booth.
This year's tour started June 21 in Window Rock, Ariz., and has made stops in Chinle and Tuba City, both in Arizona.
Keoishiah Peter, one of the organizers of this year's tour, said the project was started last year by Matthew Skeets, who launched sex education organization Sovereign Bodies Project, as a way to teach and promote healthy sexual activity among young adults.
"I think we did a good job of promoting healthy and safe living," Peter said.
The tour also provides an outlet to teach people about sexually transmitted diseases, which continue to affect the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives, according to a 2009 surveillance report by the Indian Health Service.
The rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and primary and secondary syphilis among American Indian and Alaska Natives were 1.2 to 4.3 times higher than comparable rate for Anglos, according to the report.
Condoms were donated by the New Mexico Department of Health, Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Navajo Health Education Program, Diné College HIV Prevention Program and Navajo Nation HIV Prevention Program.
The Navajo AIDS Network also donated condoms and has been providing free HIV testing and distributing information about preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
Faith Baldwin, prevention program coordinator for the Navajo AIDS Network in Chinle, said each community has responded differently to the tour.
She has also noticed the perception about prevention has changed over the last four years as more men take responsibility by asking for condoms rather than women.
In Chinle, the group handed out condoms via "a car-side service" by setting up along the main road and giving condoms to whoever stopped, Baldwin said.
Volunteers with this year's tour are members of the Sovereign Bodies Project, Rising Native Youth, Tested I am I Kno and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.
The tour is also using social media — Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and Instagram — to share its message and photographs from the various tour stops.
IF YOU GO
What: Rez Condom Tour
When: 8 a.m. today
Where: The tour will start at the flea market near the Navajo Nation Shopping Center. It will then visit the Begaye Flea Market, the Healing Circle Drop-In Center and other locations in Shiprock.firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.