Young people can and do acquire sexually transmitted diseases, despite many believing that they have sexual invincibility. The mental “S” on some chests is as likely to indicate syphilis as it is to reflect a Superman or Superwoman.
Sexually transmitted diseases can stem from risky behaviors including vaginal, anal and oral sex.
Of course, every sexual encounter, protected or not, does not result in automatic infection.
And there is always a background story. Oftentimes, the dissemination of STD information is indicative of bias.
Some writers paint the issue as solely one of international consequence. It is reported ad nauseam as standard for people living in African nations.
There are plenty of problems in the United States. Louisiana is known for seafood, but is also noted for syphilis.
The state ranked first in primary and secondary stages of the disease, according to 2008 data from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
Washington D.C. has the nation’s highest HIV rate, which is by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization’s standards, more than a “severe epidemic.”
These facts are concerning across the board, but are particularly problematic when regarding young people of color.
AIDS is the No. 1 killer of Black women ages 24-35.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, about 19 million new sexually transmitted infections happen yearly.
Nearly half of those cases are teens and 20-somethings.
While the numbers scream reform, the education system reflects mis-education.
Some school systems do not equip young Americans with the knowledge to make healthy sexual decisions as adults.
How does this happen?
“In many educational systems (and) models, sex education is not required and is still considered quite taboo,” said Registered Nurse Clinician Denesha Jaggers, an alumna living in Dallas.
Trying to “protect” young people from knowledge about prophylactics does not guarantee protection from anything.
A 2008 study suggested that purity rings and abstinence-only education did not prevent teens from having sex.
For some, sexual activity challenges deep-rooted belief systems.
To acknowledge and act upon human pre-marital sexuality represents an ethical conundrum for some religious people.
“The difficulty of teaching sexual awareness and morality is evident.
“However, morality and sexual awareness actually go hand in hand,” said Jaggers.
“We may need to tailor our morality teachings to encourage abstinence, but include sexual awareness and the use of protection as a standard of sexual behavior.”
There is no one-size-fits-all assessment of the topic. While sexual activity is popular, everyone does not participate.
Additionally, every sexual encounter does not leave a lifelong, untreatable gift.
Sometimes sexually active people become parents, and not infected together. Spring flings can and do create Homecoming babies.
Other times, sex boosts cardiovascular health, decreases prostate cancer risks, increases pleasure and helps people bond.
Sex is not going anywhere. So, if kickin’ it does lead to knockin’ boots, here’s to clean shoes.
For more information about STDs, call the Centers for Disease Control National STD Hotline at 800-227-8922.