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Monday, October 10, 2005 

Newsflash: People still stupid about STDs

Okay, so it's just an MSNBC survey (aided by none other than Dr. Ruth), but geez, when will people ever wise up about sex?

MSNBC.com and Zogby International asked online readers to share some intimate details about their personal lives, and more than 56,000 adult men and women — one of the largest responses ever to a sex survey in the United States — revealed that many are playing a pretty risky game.

Just 39 percent of people who took the survey always ask whether a new partner is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, or other STDs. Nearly one-third said they never check on a prospective partner's sexual health status, and among those with less than a high school education, almost 50 percent never discuss the issue of STDs with a new partner — troubling statistics given the deadliness of AIDS and rising rates of genital herpes and other diseases.

(Continued below)

Depressing. Seems that many still equate the idea of an STD-positive partner with "dirtiness." ("S/He's cute--he can't have AIDS/syphilis/herpes/etc.") If nothing else, you'd think those annoying Valtrex commercials would advance the meme that good-looking people can have herpes and other nasty infections. It would be interesting to find out if there was any correlation between these kinds of attitudes and having abstinence-only sex education in school...

They also mention "fear of rejection" and other related concerns as playing a role in the low number of participants who discuss sexual history with their partners. I recognize that it can be embarrassing and awkward, but if you're too embarrassed to ask the person you're planning on getting naked with about their STD status, maybe it's time to re-think the rendezvous? That's just something I have a tough time wrapping my head around.


About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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