Bill Clinton said: oral sex is not sex. But it is, and teens and young adults are getting the message. In the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), 92 percent of teenagers performed oral sex within three years of losing their virginity.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis and HIV are just a few STDs that can be transmitted through oral sex. The risk of getting an STD through oral sex is just as high as actual intercourse if protection is not properly used. Herpes simplex type 1 is the biggest oral STD risk.
More than half a billion people worldwide are infected with the herpes simplex type 2 virus, according to a 2003 World Health Organization study. If non-condom users still do not believe in the facts, let’s bring it closer to home.
Forty-five million adults and teens in America are infected with herpes simplex type 2 according to WebMD. One in four people have the virus. Since the late 1970s there has been a 30 percent increase of herpes in the nation.
More knowledge about protection is essential. As young adults, we need to stop being naive and believing “it can’t happen to me.” It can, and it will eventually happen if you continue to engage in unprotected oral sex.
Those who have to live with a STD like herpes, which infects 24 million people a year, are forced to be socially conscious. There’s no cure. So, if they want to have sex, they have to tell the person because it’s socially the right thing to do. Having to deal with an incurable disease is tough to accept. All of these problems are a result from a moment of “no-strings attached sex.”
Let’s get back to prevention. Communities have to emphasize protection for oral sex as well. We have to make high school, college students and even some adults aware that even for oral sex protection must be used. There are dental dams and female and male condoms for protection.
Self-control is also a major factor. Everyone needs to take control of their bodies and simply say, “no protection, no sex.” It’s no longer about blindly trusting people any more. No one can risk that anymore. It does not matter how many years you have known someone. It’s about protecting yourself from the emotional and physical pain of becoming another statistic. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who could care less whether the other person gets an STD or not.
That is why health professionals stress that students should get tested for a variety of STDs. AIDS is not the only disease young people should be concerned about. For herpes it might be years before an infected person has their first breakout. Young people, please stop having unprotected sex. It’s just not worth it.
Corbin Robinson is senior magazine production student from Milwaukee, Wis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.