Well, we’ve finally done it. We’ve exceeded our own expectations, tearing through centuries of “what the fuck” to reach a new era called “I don’t even know anymore.” We’re living in a world where Paul McCartney gets denied entry to Tyga’s Grammy after-party because the bouncer thought of him as no more than a sneaky, old man. We are living in a world where people are accidentally shooting themselves in the face while taking selfies with a gun. We are living in a world where people are driving themselves into lakes because their GPS told them it was the “best” route. And among all these unfortunate events is a calamity worse than the rest of them: Zika.
Yes, I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Zika virus. I mean, how could you not when The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a state of emergency, describing the virus to be “spreading explosively.” And when an organization as legitimate as WHO uses the phrase “spreading explosively” it’s probably best to pay attention and start Googling and WebMDing.
Some of you may not find Zika threatening. You probably think you’re out of out of harm’s way in Edmonton and besides, you don’t plan to have children in the near future anyways. I want to tell you that you should flip the switch on that attitude into absolute, blinding fear. You can never be out of harm’s way when harm is travelling in swarms with the intent to suck your blood. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t want kids in the near future — with no vaccine available, the safety of your far future is still in jeopardy. Be in a constant state of awareness and horror because, like any other public outbreak, you should assume that you are going to die. My fear stems from the arresting fact that a bite from a mosquito can potentially cause your baby to have a head smaller than a Terry’s milk chocolate orange. That itself is enough to make me quiver in my fur-lined tone-ups.
This fear is now deeply embedding itself in the world’s most prized athletes as we approach the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil — the heart of Zika.
In May, Starpharma, a pharmaceutical company, teamed up with Ansell, a leading condom brand, to supply “Zika-proof” condoms for the Australian Olympic team prior to the Rio games. The condom has a layer of Starpharma’s “VivaGel Active”, which was tested to show near to total antiviral protection against the Zika virus. Though some health experts believe it to be a marketing ploy, suggesting all condoms are Zika-proof if used correctly, onward we go with no definitive evidence of what will or will not protect us from this fresh hell.
“Zika-proof” condoms will be available in the Olympic village, where all athletes will be able to access free condoms from dispensing machines on every block (excessive? Absolutely not). There will be 350,000 condoms available for men and 100,000 available for women. And in this golden village populated by each nation’s sporting idols, may the accessibility of condoms over clean water guide their actions towards a city of safe-sex.
As the summer gets warmer and warmer, I feel Zika getting closer and closer. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention advises me to avoid getting mosquito bites and wear condoms, and honestly, I don’t know which one is harder to do. Because, at the end of the day nothing will stop Zika. Not your “VivaGel Active” condoms, not OFF Deep Woods insect repellent, and certainly not your loved ones.