By Jumanah Saadeh
June 13, 2011
Sex ed has come to be the brunt of jokes among high school and college kids today. We laugh when the topic comes up, or when we see the health teacher in the show Mean Girls saying, "Don't have sex. 'Cuz you will get pregnant and die."
It's actually a very serious issue, though, because according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the median age for having sex for the first time is approximately 17. And according to the Center for Disease Control, 46 percent of high schoolers had sex in 2009.
These numbers contribute to the fact that nearly half of the approximate 19 million annual STD infections occur among youth. According to an NPR report, the average number of infections per day has increased from five to eight in Los Angeles County alone.
It might be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but if you're mature enough to have sex, you're definitely mature enough to talk about it.
There's a lot in the media, from health shows to magazines, about how healthy sex is and how to have better sex, but HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness has fallen off the map. It doesn't get much media attention and people don't discuss it because of the stigma associated with it.
But stigma or not, as AIDS Project Los Angeles' Director of Education, Vallerie Wagner, said, "AIDS has no respect to person, level of income, education, race, gender. It's crucial to engage in conversations, have honest dialogue with your partner about sexual behavior and sexual practices -- and insist on a condom."
NPR further reports that since AIDS was first diagnosed 30 years ago, 1.7 million people have been infected, and of those, more than 600,000 people have died from it.
Despite those numbers, only 12 percent of heterosexual single dating men, and one-third of women, said they used a condom usually or always.
The price of a box of condoms, which can prevent the infection, is cheap. According to an article from MSNBC.com, the cost of an infected individual for lifetime treatment is over $600,000.
Now, maybe it's just me, but it seems wiser to prevent the problem than to have to deal with it. As Wagner said, "If you are sexually active…then you're at risk for HIV."
Be educated and be safe, because as cliché as the saying is, it's better to be safe than sorry.
© 2011 The Eastern Echo