2009-2010 Commentary — 22 January 2010

By: Judy Lam, Commentary Editor

Do you know what AIDS is? Do you know how it’s transmitted? Have you been sexually active with a partner and could you possibly be at a risk?
Word gets out that being sexually active is fun and everyone does it, but has it ever come into mind the consequences that you would later deal with? Like an accidental pregnancy, or contracting something you aren’t aware of?
There are many rumors about STDs, such as that only gay men are able to get HIV/AIDs, or that you can get it from kissing someone too much, if they have an STD. But the truth is that everyone in the world is at risk of getting HIV and other STDs and all those small rumors, such as kissing someone too much, aren’t true.
Many students among the Oakland High population are unaware of what AIDS is or what STDs are. However, this is changing through education. Incoming freshmen are now required to take health classes, taught by Ms. Schimon and Ms. Seals. There is also the HIV Peer Health Educators, a club that helps reach out to young adults about HIV and its effects in order to promote abstinence (the choice not to have sex) and safer sex.
AIDS (Acquired Immuno Defiency Syndrome) is a deadly virus. It can be treatable to slow down its progress in some situations, but it is not curable. It can be transmitted through sex or blood; if a parent is infected, a child can be born with it.
AIDS starts in the form of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) that takes months or years to form and develop completely. HIV eliminates the immune system and completely shuts it down by manipulating the white blood cells, causing an affected person to be more vulnerable to diseases of any kind.
There are big consequences in contracting HIV/STDs, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and genital warts. These are treatable diseases that an affected person can contract, but with HIV, these diseases get to the point where it just worsens an already weak immune system.
Most people with AIDS, without treatment, usually don’t live past 45 years old.
Statistics have shown that teens between the ages of 13 to 19 are highly able to develop STDs, HIV, or AIDS. Also, there have been studies that at least 1 in 4 sexually active students is infected with an STD.
How can you tell if you have contracted an STD? First thing to do is to check for symptoms of anything out of the ordinary, but most symptoms don’t just instantly appear. It takes weeks or months, or even years to realize the symptoms. If you are sexually active, getting tested, both you and your partner, is the most definite way of getting diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Promoting safe sex is a solution in preventing STDs and HIV. Using condoms is a wise decision that most couples should make if they choose to have sex. However, abstinence is the most effective and definite way of being safe.
Still not safe, or unsure of what’s going on? Is it possible that you have an STD? On Oakland High’s campus, there is a Wellness Center, located at Shop 55, which conducts free HIV testing for students and is completely confidential in providing results. You can also find clinics around Oakland which offer free and confidential services.

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