Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, Jul 08 2004

STDs: Can We Talk Each Other Out Of Them?

While AIDS and HIV have gotten a lot of media attention in recent years, it looks as though syphilis has been quietly mutating and becoming tougher to get rid of with simple cures like azithromycin pills. You might think syphilis is a disease of inexperienced teens, but some statistics show otherwise. The gay population is statisically at high risk, but the truth is that anyone who has unprotected sex risks trouble. Even protected sex may not save you from certain kinds of STDs if you have multiple partners (or have sex with someone who has had multiple partners in the past)

And let's not forget that Hepatitis B is also often sexually transmitted, and we have a vaccine for that one. If it's so easy to eradicate, why is it still spreading?

There's one thing I've always noticed about sexual topics. There are always a lot more books and magazine articles (and now internet articles) that give tips to parents on how to talk to kids about sex. I see very little information given to kids on how to talk to their parents. We know kids are interested. So, I can't figure out if the many articles aimed at parents are because parents don't want to talk about sex, or maybe because they don't know how and when to talk about it.

A lot of people blame the increase of STDs on the media and it's exciting scenes of spontaneous sexual encounters unacompanied by morals or personal responsibility. Repression and secretiveness doesn't seem to have helped lower STD statistics. The freedom of the sexual revolution doesn't seem to have helped. Scientific knowledge and modern medicine haven't helped. Has formal sex education helped? I don't know. How about it, kids? Do you feel as though your generation has more information and wisdom to assure you a happy, healthy life with sex as part of that?

Church and family values groups seem to throw statistics at people, along with moral phrases and cautions about the dangers of sex. They battle with groups like Planned Parenthood, and they argue that abstinence is the only answer for every sexual problem that young people could possibly have. One group hands out condoms and another group condemns the practice as irresponsible and immoral.

So, how are we doing with all this talking? Some statistics say STD cases are up. Some say STD cases are down. With everyone arguing, and with everyone this confused, I have no idea how we expect young people to make choices that keep them safe from STDs. Sex has gone from something everybody did, but nobody talked about, to something everybody still does, and everybody talks plenty about, at least from their pet viewpoint. When we finally get all talked out, maybe we'll listen and observe, and the real learning and healing can begin.

In the meantime, I hope kids don't give up on all of us clueless adults, including ones like me who don't even have children. I would just say to teens that we mean well most of the time. Maybe our first step should be to admit to you that we are just as dazzled and overwhelmed by the fun and power of sex as you are, and that we don't have all the answers. And that sometimes we don't talk about sex because we know you'll notice it if we talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. You're much smarter than we are that way.

posted at: 09:53 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

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