Recent studies suggest that 1 in 4 New Yorkers have genital herpes. Prior to this report, another study suggested that 1 in every 4 teens in America (between ages 14 and 19) has an STD. Clearly, with current levels of sexual awareness that we assume is actively present in the population - something is not connecting or resonating with the average New Yorker and teen, and probably the average person. Otherwise we'd have decreasing rather than increasing rates of herpes and STDS.
Let me first say that as a parent of a teen...and if you've read some of my earlier blogs, you know- kids and teens seem to be more worried about pregnancy (which actually has solutions) than about "catching herpes or an STD." Another thing I'm beginning to realize in general is that we all seem to think, "not me," or "one time can't possibly cause harm," or "I'm being generally careful," or some other intellectualization is happening, that we believe will somehow protect us from evil (or in this case a disease). And let's be clear - herpes is not the end of the world BUT if I could take measures to protect myself, why wouldn't I? Well, the answer to that seems to lie in human nature.
First of all when passion is the operative condition - many of us throw caution to the wind. Then there's the reality that when we feel love or lust...we probably believe it can conquer all. Finally, I do think that emotional thoughts can routinely overpower science- based intellectual thoughts. C'mon...how many times did you have that extra piece of pie knowing it was blowing your very successful diet and then convince yourself to have even more the next day because it didn't show up on the scale?? Or how many times have you pushed the envelope, just a bit, because you thought you could probably get away with it??
But there's a reality here you do have to grapple with. Herpes is out there in the community in overwhelming numbers. Herpes can not only cause a painful vesicular rash - if you're a woman, it will pretty much negate your having a vaginal delivery if you become pregnant, because the doctor will not take the chance that you could infect your baby as it passes through the birth canal. And frankly no one wants a disease that may offer you lifelong recurrence of pain and discomfort, though there are medications that can help you manage these outbreaks. Finally, getting HPV, another condition that is being "shared" in the population at large, puts women of all ages at risk for cervical cancer. So let's get real and smart, and at minimum communicate with our partners (even those we're just thinking of cohabitating with). Let's ask the questions that maybe make us cringe a bit and take the precautions we need to adopt, in order to protect ourselves. It's not cool to be in denial and it's not cool to avoid the truthful conversations we need to have with the people we are contemplating intimacy with. Finally, let's also remember that oral sex IS SEX.
Do you think you are smart - careful - fully informed?? Have you taken chances?? Do you think you may have herpes??
Published On: June 17, 2008