What is the best way to prevent STDs?

Hello everyone I’m Komla Dumor sitting in for Ros Atkins on World Have Your Say. Two hours of global debate and discussion at 1800GMT, and there are two big issues for you to talk about today.

Earlier this week, Lavinia who is working with us as part of a work experience scheme suggested we talk about the rise in sexually transmitted diseases in the US.

One in four US teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease (STD). That’s according to a study released at the National STD Prevention Conference. But what is the best way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases?

Preventing the spread of STDs is a huge issue across the world. HIV/AIDS alone affects 24.5 million in Africa, 4.9 million across Asia, 1.6 million in Latin America and 2.4 million in Europe and Central Asia

Globally sexually transmitted diseases including HIV continue to spread among young people. There are a number of questions worth considering here. What pushes young people into early sexual activity? Do young people know enough about the consequences of sex? Who should be responsible for telling young people about the facts of life? Is abstinence the only way of preventing STDs. Does abstinence work? Should condoms be made more accessible to young people?

91 Responses to “What is the best way to prevent STDs?”

  1. 1 steve
    March 12, 2008 at 19:23

    I know this would make religious fundies happy, and far lefties foaming mad, but the best way to prevent STDs is to not have sex. Given that’s not very realistic, the most realistic thing is to be smart about things. Use condoms. Also, women tend to seek out men that are very popular with other women, so these men given they have sex with more people, are more likely to have STDs, so if you have sex with them, you’re more likely to get a STD. There are some STDs that you really cannot prevent, such as herpes or HPV. Condoms don’t provide much if any protection from that. So if you’re promiscuous, you’re just playing the odds you might get something, and no condom is going to protect you from that.

  2. 2 Will Rhodes
    March 12, 2008 at 19:29

    Use a condom, and get checked regularly. That and very good ‘sex’ education. You could always open it up where parents can talk to their children about such things.

    But that all depends on which area of the world you reside.

  3. 3 rebecca
    March 12, 2008 at 20:27

    Clearly education is central to prevention. The focus of education should therefore be fact based, and people should do their best to recognize that neither their cultural nor religious beliefs will prevent what is already statistically clarified. Basic information on how STD’s are transmitted is lacking, from the ill-informed parent or child to the terrifyingly ignorant abuser who believes virginity will cure him of AIDS. Screening and vaccinations should be regular and matter of fact. Information should be readily available, pasted wildly as propaganda if necessary. Isn’t it more important that we shed our societies of often preventable diseases than ignore their causes, or worse, continue to attach such shame to them that their contraction is almost inevitable?

    Send informative mailings to parents. Send them to schools. Parents, take responsibility for at-home education. Emphasize condom use, and de-glamorize the culture of machismo that often prevents it. Before the argument appears that this is a certain path to promiscuity and wantonness, avail yourself of the worldwide statistics. No one is telling you that your personal mores or religious beliefs are being dismantled. You may continue to raise children according to your values. However, you are foolish to ignore reality, and where abstinence fails, blame is too often laid with outside influence rather than millennia old behavior patterns. Your willful ignorance may boost yet another average.

  4. 4 Syed Hasan Turab
    March 12, 2008 at 22:03

    Get married & stop fooling around, adopt any religion according to your capasity. Dont loose yourself at the name of modernisation.

  5. 5 clarabelle
    March 13, 2008 at 02:05

    I think abstinence gets a bad rap. But that it’s more realistic than many people want to think. Teaching kids (and encouraging adults) towards self-control can lead to people being more in the driver’s seat of their own lives, overall. In addition to keeping them healthy and free from STDs.

    I know that some argue that abstinence is unrealistic because humans (especially males) are driven to push so insistently for sex, and that it’s a drive that made it possible for our species to exist and persist. However, the world is not underpopulated, and having frequent sex carries more risks than benefits now to our species. Just looking at those stats and the STD and HIV transmission rates… the drive for sex may be a part of our past evolution. But it looks like it’s time to again EVOLVE (or die).

    In terms of the best means of education, I don’t know. Maybe our current sexual behavior and lack of self-control WILL kill out our species… ?

  6. 6 Steve J
    March 13, 2008 at 07:50

    Stop having sex outside of marriage, people. Syed has it right.

  7. 7 john in Germany
    March 13, 2008 at 08:17

    Rebecca has it right, screening is the best method. We have to be honest with ourselves sex is here to stay, and the age to start is getting lower. We played doctors at the age where girls are getting babies these days, the world is changing so fast that the youngsters are getting lost, before they begin to grow up.

    Steve is probably right, girls often choose a certain type for their first experiences, and another type to marry. And certain is the first type is not much worried about what happens to girl. He is already looking for the next target, when he is putting on his socks.

    Self treatment might be an answer, as young soldiers we had a self treatment facility, which probably saved a lot of embarrassed faces. This was not in UK..

    But do remember we all have an inbuilt system for Love-Sex-Relationships, that is what makes the world go round.

    Wish you all the best Lavinia for your days in the BBC.

    John in Germany

  8. 8 VictorK
    March 13, 2008 at 11:09

    The African AIDS figure is staggering. It is largely the result of male promiscuity. But Uganda has shown that it is possible to roll-back a high incidence of AIDS/HIV.

    What is needed to lower the rate of STDs is a range of policies. At the centre should be the development, or restoration, of a culture of abstinence before marriage and fidelity within it. This should also involve responsible religious groups like the Anglican and Catholic churches, since mere rational argument is unlikely to be a sufficient motivation for many, unlike something deeper such as religious conviction. The policy of doling out condoms where there is already a high rate of STDs is simply insane. It’s the kind of dogmatic irresponsibility (“…sexual liberation was a good thing before AIDS and it’s a good thing now…”, regardless of changed circumstances) that has done so much to discredit modern liberalism.

    I think that couples who get engaged should be obliged to undergo a health check before they marry. But I’d go further and require regular checks of the entire population (every individual, every 3-5 years). Education has been mentioned, but some people are simply ineducable. It would perhaps be excessive to imprison those who are discovered to have knowingly passed on AIDS (the other STDs, being treatable, are less of a concern to society). But I don’t see why such a person shouldn’t be permanently tattoed – in a discreet way – that would tip off future potential sex partners to their diseased status. Removing the mark ought to be an imprisonable offence.

    Families, schools and government all have a role to play in this, but families most of all. There should, however, be no parental opt outs when it comes to dealing with these issues in schools. Parents may reasonably expect that schools will not encourage sexual irresponsibility or push sexual liberalism or attempt to stand in loco parentis when it comes to fundamental moral education re sexual matters.

  9. 9 Brett
    March 13, 2008 at 11:29

    Have parents take their children to an inner city public health clinic. That will make them aware of the full potential consequences of their actions.
    The best way to avoid STD’s is of course to not have sex. In a culture which sex and sexual imagery bombards us daily, it can be hard to stray away from it. But no one is going to die from not having sex. You can die from having it. The choice should be clear.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  10. 10 Katharina in Ghent
    March 13, 2008 at 12:36

    I think as a parent you have to be open about it and talk to your children. It is an illusion to think that your child will stay a virgin until the glorious day when he or she gets married. As soon as you notice that your daughter starts to date, you should arrange an appointment with a doctor that you can trust and then either the three of you or your daughter and the doctor can have a discussion about what will happen if… The same holds true with your son. Fact is after all, that not just the number of STD’s is high, but so is also still the number of teenage pregnancies. So clearly our teenagers have a lot to learn. I think we also tend to forget that just because sexual liberation has been here now for 40 years, teenagers know everything because they had so much time to learn it. They didn’t, their parents may not even have been born back then. Apart from that, promiscous behaviour has always been around and our times are now worse than any other time. On the contrary, at least most STD’s can be cured quite easily nowadays, whereas they used to be a death sentence even 80 years ago.

  11. 11 juras48
    March 13, 2008 at 19:30

    Give up casual sex. Stick with someone for a while, till You know that
    one better. This will put You in a group of better odds.

  12. 12 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 14:36

    Juras: That presumes the “someone” is trustworthy. Anyone who’s done much dating realizes that’s not exactly a common characteristic.


    I’m sure there are articles like that about boyfriends and husbands. I think people are just in denial of human nature, and choose to live lies.

  13. 13 Kent in Iowa
    March 14, 2008 at 14:43

    According to the CIA World Factbook, there is over 29,000,000 females aged 0-14 and and 101 million females aged 15 – 64. So in attempt to be fair, lets say for the sake of argument there is 40 million females in the US. Aged 14 – 19.

    With this number in mind, if you’ll recall from the daily email that was sent out a little while ago the survey was of 838 females aged 14-19. Just 838 not billion, million, or thousand. I don’t think it is a fair sample of the US population to say 1 in 4 females in the US in that age range has a STD. If I were to arrive at ANY conclusion it would be that it needs to be studied more in depth by the U.S. CDC.

    As far as what we should be telling kids about sex in my opinion it should be “Be Safe or Be Sorry”.

  14. 14 Anthony
    March 14, 2008 at 14:51

    I hate to be this guy (since people think I’m evil for thinking this way), but I believe, as far as in Africa, we shouldn’t be giving them AIDS relief. Just let them die. They are just draining Africa more, and are going to die anyways, and worse of all, they just keep spreading the disease to more people. It’s a waste of money, and is making things worse.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  15. 15 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 15:11

    The thing is Kent, there’s no such thing as “safe” sex. Condoms don’t protect against HPV or herpes. So you can think you are “safe” yet still wind up being sorry.

  16. March 14, 2008 at 15:12

    Look, folks, our government is paying for abstinence training in schools and clearly it’s not working. People calling for an end to extramarital sex are totally deluded. SEX EDUCATION is the answer and always has been. We seriously need to get over the religious crap that keeps people in ignorance and face reality.

  17. 17 Brett
    March 14, 2008 at 15:13

    Kent brings a VERY important point to the table. Of the girls surveyed, important factors to take into account in STD statistics are race, income status, sexual orientation (mostly regarding men), and geographical location. Yes all people are vulnerable, but rates differ between race, income, and location. These all need to be taken into account when drawing broad generalizations from small sample populations.

    That said, no matter what the outcome, the consensus is clear that STD’s are a problem, and things need to be done to stop their spread.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  18. 18 Kent in Iowa
    March 14, 2008 at 15:35

    Ok Steve, let me amend my comment from above to say “Be as a safe as possible or be sorry.”

  19. 19 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 15:39

    Then Maria, this discussion is pointless, because the only way to stop STDs is for there to be monogamy, which means that extramarital affairs would have to stop, couples would have to stop cheating on each other. Even for people who arent attached, and have casual sex, there simply will be STDs so long as that happens. No amount of “education” can stop a skin to skin diseases such as herpes or HPV. So the fundies do have a point. If you accept people are going to be having sex in a way that fundies think is immoral, there simply are going to be STDs spread, and no amount of education can do anything to stop skin to skin STDs. So if this is the case, this discussion is pointless.

  20. 20 Arnaud ntirenganya Emmanuel
    March 14, 2008 at 15:46

    Nowadays controling children is becoming very impossible…only telling them the naked truth about these STDs…it’s unfortunate that young as 13 years old know already sex…but on another side we should know instead what pushes these youths to go in for sex at that tender age…in many cases poverty and compare.

  21. 21 Arnaud ntirenganya Emmanuel
    March 14, 2008 at 15:55

    Preventing these STDs will be very difficult because many young people are lured by old people what I call “cross generational sex” So you see who to blame at times! I hate when I am approached by old women…I only see STDs

  22. 22 Arnaud ntirenganya Emmanuel
    March 14, 2008 at 15:58

    Not possible!

  23. 23 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 16:16

    Kent, even then it’s still not good enough. “be as safe as possible or be sorry” when the topic is about PREVENTING STDs means you can still be as safe as possible (meaning, using a condom, don’t have sex with someone who has visible herpes or genital warts) and you can still be “sorry” because you can still get it. The fundies have a point, the ONLY way you can PREVENT stds is by not having sex. However, that’s not realistic. So to prevent STDs is virtually impossible. Sure, you can say that you can have sex only with someone who has been tested and is clean, but then you have to trust them to not cheat. You again run the risk of them doing that and getting an STD as a result. So perhaps this topic should be changed to how we can minimized the prevelance of STDs, but not prevent them, given it’s simply not going to be possible.

  24. 24 Virginia Davis
    March 14, 2008 at 16:19

    Will Rhoades is right. Sex education, not just abstinence training is good. Hope that parents have their say. As for Anthony’s remark about let all the people in Africa who have AIDS die, shame on you! Virginia in Portland, OR

  25. 25 Pravin from India
    March 14, 2008 at 16:22

    Hello WHYS team.
    Lets get it straight, The best way to prevent the STDs may be the following,
    1) Educate people about them.
    2) Parents need to be more friendly with their children so that any possible undesired actions may be avoided.
    3) Not to make sex a secret n ‘not so public’ issue.
    4) Condoms must be made easily available.
    5) Prostitutes must be made compulsory to have regular health checkups.
    6) And as far as America is considered it seriously needs a government body which can enforce some hard n fast rules to get the things under control.


  26. 26 Justin from Iowa
    March 14, 2008 at 16:28

    I’ve always been a fan of brutal, honest truth. Trips to clinics, person to person talks with people who have STDs, written accounts from people in the same age group who have contracted an STD… enough forms of communication that at least one will connect. And provide concrete information about ways to protect oneself from what diseases you can.

    And that’s about it. Although if you were willing to go and get checked out with your partner before you decided to take that step to intimacy… not likely that many people would do that (not to mention the idea of personal intrusion that may cause, who wants to find out the man/woman you want to love has an STD and force the decision to stay together or not on yourself?)

  27. 27 Pravin from India
    March 14, 2008 at 16:31

    It should be upto parents to create a more family type, a more receptive, interactive environment for the children. They should try and get the budding momentum of an young child into rather more creative things.

  28. 28 Kent in Iowa
    March 14, 2008 at 16:43

    Steve, I agree. Minimize STD’s would be a better question to ask.

  29. 29 Pravin from India
    March 14, 2008 at 16:45

    Complete eradication of STDs is not possible.

  30. 30 John in Salem
    March 14, 2008 at 16:49

    Provide free condoms.
    Provide free, anonymous screening.
    Encourage abstinence.
    Most importantly, give them the facts. Spell out the consequences. Show them some uncensored, in-your-face documentaries about living and dying with STD’s.


  31. 31 Laura in Minneapolis
    March 14, 2008 at 17:00

    I’d like to echo some of the ideas already discussed.

    Those of us lucky enough to be living in areas where sex education focuses preventative measures and facts sometimes forget how common “Abstinence Only” education is. We recently discussed this topic in a class of mine, and i was shocked. I would say at least 85% of the class (most of which grew up in smaller towns or rural areas) were taught “Abstinence only.”

    I grew up in Madison, WI and was taught sex-education from 6th grade and on. But most of my classmates were taught “Don’t have sex until marriage,” and were left clueless.

    I think that a sex education class, like a health class, needs to begin the curriculum stating that abstinence is the ONLY way to not get pregnant or infected. However, the curriculum then needs to go into preventative measures and so on. I’m not usually for governmental control of the classroom, but in this case I think it’s necessary.

  32. 32 Justin
    March 14, 2008 at 17:05

    The VAST majority of teen aged STD infections are from the virus HPV which causes genital warts and many times cervical cancer and sterility. There is a vaccine for this disease and all teen girls should be required to get it to enter public schools. Much like the other mandated vaccinations in the US.

  33. 33 Scott Millar
    March 14, 2008 at 17:08

    STDs have a stigma, they have taken on the stigma we apply to talking about sex in general. It is almost taboo to talk about STDs, while people freely talk about other diseases, except maybe mental health issues. You rarely hear someone say I have herpes. Perhaps people having more STDs will help reduce the stigma and once the stigma is gone people can have intelligent discussions about them.

    The stigma of sex in general is often what makes people act so carelessly and irresponsibly. So much sex seems taboo and this repression creates tension, embarrassment and insecurity. The low self esteem that results often allows people to act recklessly and sometimes just not care whether they get an STD. Until sex along with STDs is made “human” and “normalized” I think little will change.

  34. 34 Jason
    March 14, 2008 at 17:10

    I was recently tested in Oregon and asked to get tested for everything… only to find out later, after I got my results, that Oregon doesn’t test for herpes! You have to go to a special clinic and pay an additional $120 for the test. It made me wonder just what sort of cooties might be sneaking in under the radar within our state.

  35. March 14, 2008 at 17:22

    Creating awareness among teenagers is the most important way to prevent STDs. Both the school and the family have an equal responsibility.

  36. 36 Steve Lewis
    March 14, 2008 at 17:34

    Your studio guest may not realize that Chlamidia is not the as widely prevelent in the United States as it is in Britain. There are regions in the US where that particular STI is a greater risk than others, and that should inform the delivery of health care.

    Secondly, given the individual cost of health care services in the United States, what may be sound medical care is impacted by the personal cost of delivering those services may cause young adults to skip STI testing.

    And of course, the “Abstenance Only” policies forced upon the United States by our ultra conservative political faction has made STIs and teen pregnancy rates climb. This has been well established and is not a new insight for many of us, but I’m glad that the rest of the world is getting a chance to see this. Let it inform policies in the rest of the world.

  37. 37 Amber
    March 14, 2008 at 17:35

    This just proves that abstinence only education is not working. Why are we turning a blind eye to the truth of what is happening within our culture for what is amounting to nothing more than a right wing, holier than though campaign?

    We need to be educating young people who may not have the guidance from their parents that is really needed. They need to learn to protect themselves instead of being sheltered from the truths of the world. This is not the same cultural environment that our parents grew up in, it is much scarier and more dangerous and children need to be taught how to defend themselves.

    I also agree with the argument that we should be going after the big businesses that are over~sexualizing everything. Sex is everywhere and it seems that young women are being pushed more and more to become sex kittens at younger and younger ages through media and so called role models. Women have gone from being leaders in the world to being pushed to be sluts and objects for mens desires. We need to take the reins back so that we will go back in the right direction towards equality.

  38. 38 Scott Millar
    March 14, 2008 at 17:52

    Abstinence has been the norm for hundreds of years; if abstinence and abstinence education worked, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It has been tested and has already failed. Only irrational, illogical people still believe in its widespread efficacy.

  39. 39 Jason
    March 14, 2008 at 17:53

    Can you please tell the callers and guests to quit interrupting eachother! Argh.

  40. 40 Ryan T
    March 14, 2008 at 17:58

    The main things that differ between the America and much of Europe are education and societal context. There’s still a sense of prohibition, with heavy emphasis on abstinence and little preventive information. That’s combined with some extremes in media that depict sex as a thoughtless exploit. Even in past decades, pre-marital sex has been common in the U.S. and other Western nation. And these days marriage is often delayed. One of the best things we can do is encourage and empower young people to approach it with care, rather than relying on the hope that they will think any sex out of marriage is disgusting and “cheap”, and never have it.

  41. 41 Royston Roberts
    March 14, 2008 at 18:17

    hi kobna, some of the ways to curb STD’s are; a) let there be a massive sensitization on the dangers and the high risk involved in catching STD’s in particularly amongst the girls, because they are the most vulnerable, b) let the use of condoms amongst youth in particular the girls, be enphasized about it significance, in not only to prevent STD’s, but also to have a safer sex preventing unwanted pregnancies in young girls below the child bearing age. c) let the parents involved in the campaign of condom use to their children who they discovered has started dating especially those who have girl child, because abstianance and faithfulness are not enough sermons to preach to those teenage congregations, when they the very preachers, are the poachers of young girls.
    royston roberts
    freetown, sierra leone

  42. 42 YoungMi
    March 14, 2008 at 18:22

    I am completely against the extreme attitudes of fundamentalist Muslims or Christians, but I feel Western society has gone too far the other direction. Everything is permissible and more sex education isn’t going to change anything when society’s response is too lax. We need to bring back some sense of shame. Shame exists to keep people in line societally. It evokes a negative consequence for your actions. These over-permissive, baby boomer liberal parents have ruined a generation by letting kids do whatever they want and justifying their actions instead of taking them to task.
    It should be a matter of shame for everyone involved when a 14 year old girl has an STD, including both sets of parents of the girl and her partner.But when you live in a society where no one takes any responsibility, then what is the deterrent in engaging in such behavior?
    Public sex education isn’t working. It should be a matter of personal responsibility that parents stop trying to be cool friends with their kids and learn to lay down the law in their own families.
    I don’t think abstinence works, but it’s never acceptable to let 14 years have sex and be ok with that.

  43. 43 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:26

    Raymond in Sierra Leone, by text

    I think proper educational programmes should be done about HIV/AIDS to youths and teenagers.

  44. 44 carlos King
    March 14, 2008 at 18:29

    Hi All,

    The best way to prevent STDs is no longer a fashionable/ acceptable standard for most people- christians and especially non-christians. Yes some christians also have/get STDs. People generally and children in particular are having sex as if its going out of style or it is going to runaway so they must get it right now! Very few of us are willing to wait until we get married. And we should not have any “sweetheart” or girlfriends/boyfriends on the side. Some people might call this prunish but in the prunish age, STDs were not half as prevalent.

    The media and our leaders and elders in the community should let children know that sex is for big, grown-up, mature people! Pickney nuh fi have sex! Sex is more married people! The Bible is right!

    Until this message is on everyones lips STDs will continue to increase and diversify. But because this is the real world and not Utopia the following are suggested to prevent the spread of STD.

    1. Children/adolescents who are sexually active should be given condoms by their parents. These children include girls as well. If they are big enough to have sex, they should be big enough to dictate how the game is played.

    2. Singles/couples who are sexually active should take regular check-ups.

    3. Prostitues should insist on condom use everytime they service a client.

    1 – 3 is only a bandaid. The real cure is for us to start following the principles of the Bible especially the 7th Commandment which forbids sex outside of marriage. If people had sex only with their one and faithfully committed partner there would not be any such thing as a sexually transmitted disease. But this will never happen on earth. Therefore the government must take and active part in education the citizens on the importance of safe sex and insist on condom use everytime. The Catholic Church needs to stop the Ostrich posturing, that is, burying their head in the sand and allow their members to use a condoms.

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica

  45. 45 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:32

    Toyib in Nigeria, by text

    I am 24. Yet, I am a virgin. I have never had parental sex education. Sexual urges can be controlled by anyone.

  46. 46 Pamela Newman
    March 14, 2008 at 18:33

    I think the U.S.A. telling young people not to have sex is a bit hippocritical. They would have to change their whole social attitudes. Sex is in every facite of their lives. Cheerleaders,Beauty contests for adults and children, music with sex words and sexy dressing and grinding, cloths, movies. Young childrens dresses for girls too sexy. Children see and hear sex every day and then the adults say not to do it?? Pleassssse !

  47. 47 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:34

    Elton from Monrovia in Liberia

    Abstaining can be difficult but is the best approach!

  48. 48 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:34

    Ekayu in Uganda, by text

    These days by the time a girl is 16 she will have had more sexual partners than our mothers have had in their entire lives.

  49. 49 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:35

    Kairo from Lagos, by text

    Abstinence is idealistic & has a high failure rate. Education is the key.

  50. 50 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:35

    Anon in Nigeria, by text

    Hi i am 26, a final year University student in Nigeria. I am a virgin and I will be till I get marriage. It will be good for young people to stay away from sex till marriage.

  51. 51 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 18:36

    Let’s not get too graphic here, but when people say they are virgins at 18 or 24, are we talking virginity in the Clintonian sense? You can get STDs from oral sex, in fact, I recall the studying saying that HPV was far more prevelant these days because kids thinking that oral sex is completely safe, and can still say they are virgins.

  52. 52 Michael Sheridan (San Francisco)
    March 14, 2008 at 18:36

    I feel that the best way to prevent the spread of STI is to educate Young People in many ways of protecting oneself from these infections either through profilactives and through abstenance and let them make up their own minds about which is best for them to protect themselves

  53. 53 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:39

    Sofyan in Iraq

    Islam forbids illegal sexual relationships. I see it as the best solution to all the problems.

  54. 54 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:39

    Menon by text

    By talking to them about sex you can prevent STDs from spreading

  55. 55 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:39

    Tony in Nigeria by text


  56. 56 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:40

    Ayo in Nigeria by text

    Abstinence is the answer. Sex is for married people.

  57. 57 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:40

    Faith in Uganda by text

    Contraceptives and condoms are a necessary evil today. Abstinence may only work for a few of the youth.

  58. 58 Mary
    March 14, 2008 at 18:40

    It is an incurable moral disease, the whole society is infected, take your children to live in the mountains and isolate them from this stinking environment.

  59. 59 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:40

    Kindama in Sierra Leone by text

    In this sexually charged world of children, where sex is regarded as food for teenagers, abstinence will fall on deaf ears, the only way out, is the right type of education.

  60. 60 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:42

    Hiba in Saudi Arabia, by text

    This study is shocking there needs to be more effective awareness campaigns in the US. Pre- marital sex is not practised in Saudi Arabia so we don’t have these problems. The case of abstinence is very strong but difference societies do things differently.

  61. 61 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 18:43

    “These days by the time a girl is 16 she will have had more sexual partners than our mothers have had in their entire lives.”

    Haha, glad someone else said it. I suppose it’s nobody’s business presuming (1) she has no STD to spread, and it (2) doesn’t give her baggage/commitmentphobia that she will make someone else (me) suffer for her past decisionmaking. Otherwise, it’s just something you have to expect. It’s not like I’m a virgin myself.

  62. 62 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:44

    Abara, Nigeria by text

    At the age of 19 I’m still a virgin. Sometimes my friends wonder if I am actually sane, cause they think I am out.

  63. 63 Fuchsia
    March 14, 2008 at 18:46

    Bas in the Gambia by text

    Abstinence is the best answer, and the best way to earn that is to control the dress code of females.

  64. March 14, 2008 at 18:53

    Don’t have sex before marriage, it’s just that simple. Yes, SIMPLE. It IS a realistic option, contrary to the first comment – we are not animals, we have control of our faculties.

    Two virgins (not TECHNICAL vigins, ACTUAL virgins) who marry are guaranteed not to have an STD.

  65. 65 Richard Bell
    March 14, 2008 at 18:54

    Call me next time you run on this issue.

    Two thirds of the American “Founding” Fathers, or more correctly, “Founding Mothers,” who lived in strictly religious homes, hearing nothing but “abstinence only” messages, without rock and roll, movies, videos, rap or tv…still had their first children less than seven months after their weddings.
    The point being that our natural, biological programing is stronger than any level of outwardly socialized behavior. The natural drives toward procreation trumps the “just say no” messages of the right-wing religious nuts…despite billions of dollars worth of media control and government “bully pulpits.”
    Of course “abstinence” is a wonderful thing to teach and support…..we just can’t reasonably expect it to have much influence.

  66. 66 Andrew
    March 14, 2008 at 18:55

    I think that a large part of the problem is that a government mandate requires schools that receive public financing to only promote abstinence and to promote condoms as ineffective. Schools that have their sex education classes teach condom and birth control use risk loosing their government funding. My high school sex education teacher, who also taught by parents actually had to keep all of the birth control methods in a steel case with a padlock so that if the government inspectors came she would not get fired. She and her metal case retired from the school after over 30 years, everyone in the school has known all along and it is a shame to have to hide common sense, that birth control does work. At the school we even had text books that said that birth does not work. I am the oldest of 3 children and was born after my parents were married

  67. 67 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 19:08

    Rob V.:

    “Don’t have sex before marriage, it’s just that simple. Yes, SIMPLE. It IS a realistic option, contrary to the first comment – we are not animals, we have control of our faculties.

    Two virgins (not TECHNICAL vigins, ACTUAL virgins) who marry are guaranteed not to have an STD.”

    As if the divorce rate weren’t already high enough. Just what happens when these people realize they aren’t sexually compatible???

  68. 68 Erin via email
    March 14, 2008 at 19:28

    I am listening to the story about the US teens with high rates of STDs. It is sad that it has taken this long to get this topic analyzed and talked about in a meaningful way. I was a grade 5 (age `10-12 years) teacher in the US at an inner-city school in the South Bronx of NY. My students were predominately black or Hispanic, all of whom were living below the poverty level. Almost all of them were sexually active in some way. I thought the problem of young people engaging in sexual activity was limited to the inner city, until I spoke with fellow teachers working in affluent areas. In the wealthy white schools, kids were also sexually active, often engaging in oral sex in the classrooms and bathrooms at the school. It seemed obvious to all of us teachers that we needed to talk about sexual activity and to educate our students about their bodies, choices, and responsibilities in order to stay healthy.

    We were not allowed to do so.

    We actually received a mandate from the Board of Education to refrain from discussing sex in any way with our students.

    Here is where it gets ridiculous: in the spring we had to cover HIV/AIDS awareness. We were given a scripted curriculum in which we were not allowed to discuss the fact that HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease. I was stumped: how do I talk about HIV/AIDS and NOT talk about sex?

    So, how did I get around all of this ludicrous NON-teaching? I set up an after school program that was not affiliated with the school. Parents had to sign a consent form allowing me to talk about sexuality and our changing bodies. Parents were relieved, as many didn’t even know how to talk about these very important issues with their children. The kids were relieved because they had an adult to talk with, and I was relieve dto know that at least 35 kid sin NY were going to have some knowledge in order to aid them in making informed choices. Girls who were already having intercourse learned that they could actually get pregnant despite the many misleading myths they had been encourage to believe by their peers, that oral sex could cause STDs, and that they have a responsibility to take care of themselves.

    SO, why does America have a problem? Simple, we feed our kids images of sex and women as objects, boys are pressured to show their strength through sexual prowess, and yet our government wants to believe that we are too puritanical to need to talk about sex. Until America wakes up and gets real, the rates of US teens with STDs are only going to get higher. Parents and politicians are in denial, and the people who know what is happening (teachers) aren’t allowed to speak out. Unless we allow teachers to educate our teens about the real life issues that affect them, things will not get any better.

    Signing off as a concerned teacher,

    US teacher working in Ghana, West Africa

  69. 69 Scott via email
    March 14, 2008 at 19:55

    I don’t really find the report that 1 in 4 girls in America have STDs is odd. You can’t turn on the T.V. today without being barraged by a culture that emphasizes Ho’s and Pimpin’ as positive traits. If I were a teenage boy, I would be thrilled that a whole generation of young women are being taught that their only value in life is to perform as eye candy and as sex providers.

  70. 70 Zak via email
    March 14, 2008 at 19:58

    The only way to turn around popular media advocating sex amongst teenagers on TV and the internet is to use popular media to turn it around. Nobody remembers what the band TLC did in this name because Lisa Lopes is now gone but that’s the only way.

  71. 71 Debra via email
    March 14, 2008 at 19:59

    Teen girls today know that they are not going to be getting married at age 20 like their mothers and grandmothers. Are they supposed to wait to have sex until they are in their mid-30s? Absinence only education is antiquated and ridiculous
    Sex education should focus on knowing your partner and knowing your partner’s sexual history. If a girl feels ready to have sex at 16 or 17 that is fine by me as long as she is aware of the consequences and how to protect herself from STDs.

    Austin, USA

  72. 72 Aaron via email
    March 14, 2008 at 20:01

    It would be great if the moderator could get someone from the United States other than the people representing the very small minority of Christian Evangelicals. It’s great that they express their opinion but we all know that what follows is their desire to impose their opinions on everyone else. Therefore I’d like to hear from some experts in the US who’s actually mainstream and has a healthcare background rather than specific religious training.

    Portland, Oregon, USA

  73. 73 tedla via email
    March 14, 2008 at 20:02

    As a father of three school aged children our family is worried about the recent statistics in USA where for every four black teenagers one is infected with STD. This is a public health hazard and the Fed government has to give resources to fight the disease through treatment and education. All the bombs dropped in the years following 9/11 would have spent on issues like this.

    New York, USA

  74. 74 Steven via email
    March 14, 2008 at 20:03

    Can you ask your guest if he believes in the pareto principle when it comes to sexuality. I’m wondering why there is no results on teen boys, and if there were, would the rates be the same, higher or lower? Under the pereto principle, it usually says that 80% of things are caused by 20%. Meaning, given what I’ve observed in life, only a small amount of men have sex with most of the woman, especially at younger ages because women seem to be interested in what other women are interested in, meaning a small amount of young men will be very popular with the women, and hence will have sex with a large number of women. If that’s the case, a small amount of men are the source or contribute to this STDs by either infecting women, or being infected by women, and then passing on those infections.


  75. 75 Linda via email
    March 14, 2008 at 20:05

    I am now 62 years old and over the years have had different STDs. At 17 VD I had to go to a clinic in Covent Garden(the only one in London). At 32 I caught trichamonosis and at 51 chlamydia and the man was older than me. (sorry for the spelling) I wouldn’t touch a man with a barge pole now.
    These disease’s touch every age and the only answer is to use a condom, there is no other way. My niece had her period at 9 years old girls and boys should be helped at school to understand the dangers by understanding adults.


  76. 76 Piera via email
    March 14, 2008 at 20:06

    STD is a consequence of sexual profligacy, dissoluteness and perversiveness which our young girls are indoctrinated with by Margaret Sanger’s generation girls through sex education, speaking openly about sex, contraception, unwanted pregnancy, and protection, and NO enforcement of abstinence or SEX ONLY AT MARRIAGE.


  77. 77 Jennifer, via email
    March 14, 2008 at 20:07

    I think that Taylor the young caller from the US is a bit culturally biased. She is coming from a country with Judeo-Christian roots, a country where sex carries with it strong societal stigmas and labels that differ greatly from the media image projected about sex. (Many kids feel that it’s hip to be sexy but morally wrong to have sex, for example.) It’s unreasonable to expect the same kinds of programs and philosophies that catch fire in the US to be popular or effective elsewhere.
    Bottom line: The spread of STDs is a public health issue. Until it is addressed as such in a value-neutral way that makes the risks and consequences real and personally relevant to young people this situation will just continue to get worse.
    Los Angeles, USA

  78. 78 Andrew via email
    March 14, 2008 at 20:08

    I think that a large part of the problem is that a government mandate requires schools that receive public financing to only promote abstinence and to promote condoms as ineffective. Schools that have their sex education classes teach condom and birth control use risk loosing their government funding. My high school sex education teacher actually had to keep all of the birth control methods in a steel case with a padlock so that if administrators came she would not get fired. She retired from the school after over 25 years.


  79. 79 steve
    March 14, 2008 at 20:11

    Erin: It’s not entirely the media’s fault. As another commentor stated, people had premarital sex a very long time ago too. They weren’t as promiscuous back then because they didn’t have BC or condoms, so it was much riskier.

    You neglected to mention something though that will likely be ignored, but many girls have sex because it #1, makes them popular. Women base too much of their self esteem on what others think of them. Hence designer clothes, handbags, shoes, stuff that most men probably don’t even notice. The girls that had sex in middle school and high school are “popular”. There’s also something else I hope wont get ignored, but women tend to get “stuff” from having sex. I’m sure you’ve heard of the term sugar daddy before, or even if it isn’t to that extreme, still basically have sex to get things. I know plenty of women that haven’t paid for a meal or rent in years because they just have sex with guys to get that stuff. Drugs?

    I Japan, if you enter malls, there will be Japanese teenage girls that will propose having sex with you so that you buy them a designer bag or whatever. I didn’t believe this until I witnessed it personally there. Apparently that’s a pretty serious thing they’ve got going there. But it’s really no different than women that date for meals or rent. But that all starts young, and as you stated, it’s beginning in middle schools, where literally girls will charge for oral sex in the bathroom.

    You just watch, this Eliot Spitzer prostitute will be made into a celebrity by society, and girls willl grow up thinking that they can be a prostitute and get a record deal and a lot of attention. Things like that, and TV shows like Sex and the City, have destroyed women. Probably the worst offender was the movie “Pretty Woman” where basically women have been interpreting as “I can sleep around with as many guys, heck, I can be a prostitute, and EVEN then, prince charming will sweep me off my feet!”. I guess I’ve come full circle and really the media has a lot to do with it, but not completely the media’s fault. Society really has been enabling women to behave badly, without consequences, when there really are for poor decisionmaking.

  80. 80 YoungMi
    March 15, 2008 at 00:41

    The problem is the U.S. is no one has any concept of self-respect. I am always shocked by the cavalier and careless attitude my peers have towards casual sex. No one seems to use their common sense.
    First of all, it isn’t safe. Casual hookups can be dangerous and I prefer not to put myself into a potential date rape situation. Nor do I relish the idea of having my head boiled on the stove by a serial killer.
    A drunken one night stand is guaranteed to be especially unsatisfying for women physically and depending on the female, emotionally.
    No sex is safe sex, and the more people you have sex with the odds that you’ll catch something goes up. I don’t want to be some sad creep that has to surf the herpes dating web sites for the rest of my life.
    And last but not least, to me, sleeping with someone that has been with lots of others is like having to use a public toliet, and I don’t think any of us enjoy that!

  81. 81 Vernon
    March 15, 2008 at 16:37

    With sexual desire being such a strong emotion with potentially disastrous consequences it is only right that something higher should control it or that it should be “contained” within marriage. What’s wrong to wait until marriage? If marriage must be delayed till 30 is it because of another desire – to amass as much wealth as possible before then? I suppose it’s easier for me to say this due to social fears during my teenage years and after. To simply take a girl to a dance at the age of 17 with nothing else happening on that date was like a fairy tale already for me. I held hands for the first time at 19 or 20…and so on. Anyway, I’m not sorry I only married at age 30 due to these relationship fears, and since then I can’t say I’ve felt as if I’d lost any time either. There is plenty of it so don’t worry. A little fear or respect doesn’t hurt!

  82. 82 steve
    March 16, 2008 at 15:22


    “A drunken one night stand is guaranteed to be especially unsatisfying for women physically and depending on the female, emotionally.
    No sex is safe sex, and the more people you have sex with the odds that you’ll catch something goes up. I don’t want to be some sad creep that has to surf the herpes dating web sites for the rest of my life.
    And last but not least, to me, sleeping with someone that has been with lots of others is like having to use a public toliet, and I don’t think any of us enjoy that!”

    If drunken one night stands are guaranteed to be especially unsatisfying for women, why do they have them so often? I think perhaps you’re making comments based upon your own views, and you can only speak for yourself. I think you just have to accept that people are very promiscuous these days, either that or you will find yourself alone for a very long time.

  83. March 17, 2008 at 06:58

    hi there everyone,
    I am a teacher by profession and what I have observed
    in these years is that the teens often give up to peer pressures. For instance, if a girl is virgin till she is 16 and still doesnt date anyone her friends think she is abnormal and they often bully her to the extend that she finally hooks up with someone just to prove her peers that she can also be equally appealing. The same thing happens to a boy also.
    where sex education is concerned, nobody is that ignorant about the pros and cons of it.
    Its the movies and the porno sites which have greatly
    been responsible for influencing young minds.
    Its high time when these teens should be injected with a dose of ” TOO MUCH SEXY IS TOO MUCH SICK!”
    I think only then they will try to come out of this
    “I am more sexy than you” OR “I sleep with more guys
    than you” types of mental sickness can be cured as unless this is cured no STDs or AIDS in the world can be cured.
    Its time to cure the minds to prevent such diseases.
    Its all in the mind.

  84. March 17, 2008 at 07:21

    Well, I think teens be encouraged to take part in lot of social activities, sports ,politics so that they are less diverted to other disastrous activities.
    family outings should be encouraged.
    Parents should spend more quality time with teens, indirectly influencing them to understand self worth,
    choosing the right partner etc.
    Also children should be made strong enough so that they dont give up to peer pressures as often its observed that more than 60% of teens follow their peers.

  85. March 17, 2008 at 14:20

    Earth to Steve,

    Condoms do, too, protect against herpes. Please check your facts, even if they don’t match your religious beliefs.


  86. 86 steve
    March 17, 2008 at 19:21

    Earth to Maria,

    Herpes is a skin to skin disease. You can spread herpes even if you wear one, or you can get it even if you wear one, or if you’re on the recipient end too. I am also an athiest, so please don’t make presumptions.

  87. 87 George USA
    March 18, 2008 at 20:40


    But what if the Bible is exactly what it says it is

    and what it says about sex

    is the only thing that works for humans?

  88. 88 Robert
    March 19, 2008 at 17:06

    1. Proper education based on the most current scientific researches.
    2. Stop the spread of ignorance based on culture beliefs.
    3. Find cure to stop the spread when too many mistakes been made because of ignorance and irresponsible individuals.

  89. 89 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 00:03

    What Robert wrote on March 19,2008!

    i agree what he is talking about!

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  90. 90 Janice Aldridge
    May 17, 2008 at 03:22

    I was looking for a tutorial to teach my son about condoms as we do believe in them in our house and we aren’t necessarily going to stop our kids even with our best efforts. Anyway, I appreciate your article as well as this other one I found the Trojan Condom: http://www.trojancondoms.org/index.php/how-to-put-on-a-trojan-condom/

    Janice A

  91. 91 Jason
    November 1, 2008 at 11:06

    Perhaps we should all stop being around other people. I mean people get colds right? The Flu? How about flesh eating bacteria? How is an STD different from a cold? What about cancer? Perhaps we should all stop using artificially made things? Let’s destroy everything that causes cancer, regardless of the benefits. Overweight? Lets make sure not one can eat anything but raw vegetables and fruits with nuts. We should never eat any meat, that can spoil and make you sick right? How about hereditary diseases? Let’s make procreation illegal so we can stop disease. What about mental illness? How do we fix that?

    Things go wrong. People get sick. Perhaps if there was more focus on finding cures , rather than medication to “help”. When was the last real cure found? Even the HPV vaccine is now causing problems. Notice how all the medication that they have now seems to allow a person to live with a problem rather than fix it? Doesn’t that benefit the companies more? I mean why cure herpes when you can almost totally eliminate the symptoms and make it very unlikely to spread (but not impossible). Then you can sell them the medicine for life! Look at AIDS. With proper medication they can live a much longer life, for a price.

    When will people realize we are all being taken advantage of. People will always get sick. So long as we are all selfish and focus on getting rich it will not change, even when it is actually possible to change it.

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