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by Aminah
  Age 15

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"Sexually transmitted diseases are not something that people sit down to dinner and talk about. But they can not be pushed aside. They are a striking reality, and to be ignorant is the highest risk factor. Playing dummy is not going to make these things go away."
                                                        -Aminah, Age 15

"I know, I heard it a million times, but you just don't think it happens. Especially when you are young. A few years ago, when I was in high school, I thought nothing could kill me. Nothing. I was diagnosed HIV positive last week and I'd do anything now not to get sick. "

In today's society, media bombards us with images of spontaneous, un-safe sexual activity. The message is sent that if you are caught up in a moment of passion, then you are exempt from using protection. In most cases, the negative outcomes of such risky behavior are not shown, hence relaying a false pretense of reality. It is partially through these unrealistic media messages that a widespread feeling of invincibility surrounding sexually transmitted diseases has settled into society. STD's have become a striking reality for more people than you may realize. It is estimated that one out of every four young Americans will acquire a sexually transmitted disease before the age of 20.
Photo of Aminah West
      Aminah West, Age 15
  Sexually transmitted diseases have neither sexual nor social preference and can be transferred despite age, social economic backgrounds and life styles. Society today is much more open and accepting of sexual issues than it was 50 years ago and while that is good in a way, it also poses problems if not dealt with in a responsible manner. Since the rise of sexuality in society, there has been a drastic increase in the occurrence and severity of sexually transmitted diseases.
  It is vital in this day and age that all people be educated about conditions surrounding sexuality and intimate relationships, and take full responsibility for their actions. When you make unwise, decisions regarding sexual behavior, it effects not only your life but the life or lives of those who you are intimately involved with.

While abstinence is the surest way to avoid transmission, there are other ways to be safe.

  • Communicate with those who you plan on being intimate with prior to involvement in sexual behavior. - Talk about and decide on methods of prevention and control.
  • Do not engage in unprotected sex---always use condoms and spermacides when any genital contact is to be involved.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your partner whether or not he/ she is a carrier of any diseases. (Do not be afraid to ask for them to receive testing if they are not sure.)
  • Get frequent screening for diseases.
  • Do not share, re-use drug or syringe needles
Because HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS are the most publicized and most deadly sexually transmitted diseases, people seem to think HIV is all they have to worry about. A common attitude is that if one is heterosexual and uses a condom, they have complete assurance that nothing could go wrong.

HIV/AIDS in not a "gay peoples virus" just as Syphilis, Herpes, Gonorrhea, Trichomona and Chlamydia, are not "straight people viruses." Don't be scared of sex. Sex is a natural human activity that can be very pleasant.

Be scared of unsafe sexual activity and seek protection. Be educated, and don't let a sexually transmitted disease become your reality.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Genital Herpes
Genital Warts
Techniques for Prevention and Control