-by K. Duron

Alright. So we’re teenagers. We all know what sex is. We’ve heard adults tell us we’re too young. But let’s face it. Abstinence, although ideal, does not seem to be realistic. We cannot expect to completely eliminate teen sex, because of the hormones that drive people crazy and then circumstances that lower inhibitions and make it harder to say no. In that case, it is more realistic to have safe sex than to promote abstinence.

So let’s break it down. Safe sex means taking precaution to prevent any sexually transmitted diseases. And I know a lot of us think, “that won’t happen to me, I won’t get an STD.”...But in reality, 20 million new STDs occur each year in the US. And every 9.5 minutes, someone is infected with HIV. So your chances of getting an STD are much higher than you think. And the worst part is, half of all new STD infections each year are among youth. That’s us.

And we also say sometimes, “Yea, but I don’t know people who get STDs, all my friends have sex and they’re all fine.” Actually, that would be normal to think, seeing as how one in five people living with HIV is unaware of their infection and most STDs don’t show any symptoms, so you can have something and not know it.

The most common STDs in teens are human papillomavirus (HPV), then chlamydia, trichomoniasis, genital herpes, and gonorrhea. And some of these are curable, but you have to get tested to know if you have an STD in the first place. And prevention is important! HPV for instance, is preventable by a vaccine!

So here’s my point, we can give all the excuses we want, but we can’t ignore the facts. And here’s the good news...it’s not that difficult to practice safe sex and it’s really easy to get tested for STDs! There are plenty of places in your school district alone where you can get free condoms, even mailed right to your door from Project U! Just explore this website and you can find plenty of resources, like a finder for teen-friendly clinics in your area. Remember the only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested, so check out the clinics at least once a year. Also, young women in LA County can try free home test kits called I Know.

The bottom line is that we can’t fall into the trap of listening to things like, “it doesn’t feel the same”, “if he pulls out, nothing will happen”....We have all heard those lame excuses. But come on. A few minutes of pleasure won’t ever be worth your health or your life.

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