World AIDS Day was this past Thursday, December 1st. Fortunately, AIDS is not the death sentence that they used to be, but HIV and other sexually transmitted infections still pose a very real health risk, especially for people who, like us here at the Casual Sex Project, are devoted hookup aficionados.
Yet, as our friends at LELO recently reported, a recent poll by the charity MAC AIDS FUND found that 90% of the teenagers surveyed felt they were not at risk of contracting HIV or AIDS in their lifetime. Over 30% wrongly thought they couldn’t catch HIV through unprotected sex! (How do they think HIV is transmitted, exactly?!) And 40% of teens didn’t really talk about HIV/AIDS with anyone.
A separate LELO survey found more concerning stats regarding HIV and condom attitudes and knowledge:
- 25% of people surveyed didn’t know the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with HIV
- 30% of women would rather bring makeup than a condom on a night out
- 12% of people basically refused to use a condom
As our very own Dr. Zhana told LELO for their press release, with the advent of HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), HIV and AIDS stopped being this scary, deadly disease and became a manageable chronic illness, much like diabetes. This was followed by a decrease in public visibility and concern surrounding HIV/AIDS issues. Furthermore, with the recent arrival of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis which, if taken properly and consistently, dramatically reduces chances of becoming infected with HIV), many high-risk communities are disposing of condoms altogether, and the National Institutes of Health are shifting their priorities away from condoms or other behavioral interventions and toward PrEP as the new magic pill. Yet, PrEP is far from a magic pill (adherence to taking the pill consistently is low: only 15% of high-risk populations who start taking PrEP are estimated to stay on it long-term!), HIV/AIDS is still a difficult diagnosis to live with, and 65% of people who are HIV+ do not actually have access to therapy. Given this, condoms remain a highly effective method for preventing a life-threatening condition at worst, a chronic condition at best, as well as pregnancy and a number of other sexually transmitted infections.
There are always risks inherent in unprotected sex, and the value of of condoms to diminish the risks of HIV/AIDS exposure, STIs, and pregnancy is important to remember! LELO has set out on a social media campaign with their new condom, “HEX™ Education Throughout The Nations” to remind us all that #SaferSexUseHEX and #WearingIsCaring.
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