To the editor:
The article "Schooling sex ed" in the Journal-World on March 5 perpetuates misunderstandings of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
There is no "safe sex," only "safer sex." The only way to effectively prevent STDs is to avoid ALL genital/genital or hand/genital or oral/genital contact.
The prevalence of HIV positivity in the college-age population is 1/500. The combined prevalence of Chlamydia and human papillomavirus (HPV) diseases is over 50/500. Herpes (HSV) and molluscum are also common, but we don't have their detailed statistics.
Education on HIV prevention does NOT carry over to those diseases which have significant prevalence. Very few college students can name the four most prevalent STDs in their population: HPV, HSV, molluscum and Chlamydia.
Condoms are reasonably effective in preventing diseases spread by body fluids such as HIV and Chlamydia. Even intact, they are woefully inadequate in preventing HPV, HSV, and molluscum or any other STD spread by contact.
The association of STDs and the use of alcohol or other drugs is extremely high. Any prevention message must include this information no mention in the article.
The American College Health Assn. has a slide presentation, "The Silent Epidemic." For free downloading, use the following path: www.acha.org Information & Resources Clinical & Educational Tools. It is easy to understand, appropriately graphic, and suitable for use at the junior high age and older. The majority of college students who engage in some kind of genital activity began doing so in junior high or high school. Clearly, correct messages regarding STDs must be given prior to the time that an individual begins sexual activity, including "only" external contact.
In the 15 years I have been at the Watkins Student Health Center, I have treated more than 5,000 students for STDs. It breaks your heart to see these young people with preventable diseases like HPV that can takes months of treatment and result in protracted emotional trauma. Arguing about whether condoms should be dispensed in the schools is a sideshow that fails to acknowledge the real issue.
Henry W. Buck, M.D.,
head of gynecology
Watkins Student Health Center