- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
WETZSTEIN: Cases of STDs continue to rise
Question of the Day
The federal government recently came out with its 2007 figures on sexually transmitted disease. As one might expect, the news is not good.
First some numbers, then some thoughts about why our nation seems unable to give this epidemic the royal smackdown it deserves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of STD Prevention, our massive STD problem is still growing.
Chlamydia infections hit a record 1.1 million in 2007 — and those are just the reported cases; the total number of chlamydia cases is probably closer to 3 million, public health experts say.
There were 353,000 reported cases of gonorrhea in 2007. This is sad because the gonorrhea rate peaked in the late 1970s and fell steadily for 20 years. In fact, we were wiping out gonorrhea so efficiently that the federal government set a goal of a mere 19 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 population by 2010. With a current gonorrhea rate of 119 cases per 100,000, we can kiss that 2010 goal goodbye.
The story of syphilis is even sadder. I attended “eradication of syphilis” news briefings in the late 1990s because this ancient disease’s end seemed at hand. But syphilis began rebounding in 2001 (especially among gay men), and its 2007 rate of 3.8 cases per 100,000 marks its seventh increase.
The news on other STDs isn’t good either. The CDC estimates 45 million people have incurable herpes and 20 million have human papillomavirus. Fresh HIV/AIDS data estimates 1.1 million Americans have it. Nineteen other lesser-known STDs are slinking around too.
You undoubtedly know the public health advice for STDs — don’t have sex, don’t have sex with an infected partner, don’t have sex with too many partners, use condoms, get tested regularly. In other words, protect yourself because that’s all anyone can do.
I have long wondered why our nation has such a measured (wimpy?) response to these deadly, costly, painful and escalating sex diseases.
One reason is that the diseases themselves can be hard to diagnose. If STDs turned our faces blue or gave us sore feet, we would know to go to the doctor immediately. We might even have a shot at identifying infected potential partners (e.g., stay away from limping guys who look like they’re members of the Blue Man Group).
But STD symptoms often are nonexistent or easy to ignore, so people can stay infected for a long time, to the detriment of themselves and others.
Second, there seems to be a basic disconnect about how our “enlightened” sexual mores are helping to spread all this disease. I arrive at this point of view after reading and writing about sex and STDs for 30 years.
Evolutionary theory says — nay, insists — that it is normal, natural and healthy for human beings to have multiple sexual partners. To survive, men compete to spread their seeds around. Women want the fittest offspring, so they reject some sex partners in favor of others. But beyond this restraint, men and women — like other animals — are biologically driven to seek sexual release as often and with as much variety as they desire, says the scientific logic.
Since having multiple sex partners is natural, normal human behavior, it shouldn’t lead to unhealthy outcomes, right? And yet, the unblinking facts say having multiple sex partners virtually guarantees acquisition of sexual disease, including some that are fatal and some that destroy fertility.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- JAMA opinion piece calls for ending lifetime ban on blood donation by gay men
- HIV rate drops in U.S. for most groups; percentage for young gay, bisexual men up
- VH1's 'Naked Dating' outrages parents group
- Justina Pelletier talks to Republican lawmakers
- EEOC aims to stop discrimination against pregnant women
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- Tony Dungy doubles down on Michael Sam remarks: 'Drafting him would bring much distraction'
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- DEACE: How to go from civil rights icon to bigot in one quote
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- LYONS: Small-arms treaty, big Second Amendment threat
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq