A lot of things are mixed together here, and I'm not entirely sure I'm okay with that. As a whole, however, I'd say this was an important thing to tell high-schoolers (and more!) Topics include:
- STDs: there are more than you think, easier to get than you think, condoms, etc. don't protect you like you think they do
- Ridicule: your life-time partner won't laugh at you for not having sex ealier
- Single-partner: it's sexy (or should be?) to never have had a partner before
- Birth-control: pills are given out for mostly wrong reasons
- Love isn't sex: do I need to explain?
I would take exception to at least one thing, on technical grounds. Having a single partner (on both sides) isn't the only means of having STD-free sex. The same can be achieved by having N partners having sex with each other, but never anyone else, and none of them coming into the relationship with an STD. The point is that people with STD's are out there -- if you don't interact with them, you won't get it, and you won't pass it on. It's simple graph theory, and I'm sad they ignore it in favor of the single-partner message which they want to promote anyway. (Besides, it is, I'll agree, much easier to implement the single-partner thing: the more partners you have, the more trust relationships you have to build, maintain, and verify. Eventually, there's a problem of scale and management.) You have to remember that rampant sex doesn't create diseases, it only helps them spread. Cities have had the same effect, as with the black plague. Sex, itself, isn't a cause of STDs. It's a vector (method) of transmission. I'd like that to be remembered, because I'm an idealist, and it bothers me to have things simplified and twisted this way.
[This came up again recently at the June 2004 global AIDS conference in Bangkok. Someone decided to make the debate into "use condoms" vs. "abstinence until marriage", which is grossly unfair -- it insults our collective intelligence to polarize such an important issue that way.]
I would also like to point out that at least one story told involves a disease being contracted through a kiss (the family kind) -- yet they seem oblivious to the fact this doesn't just mean "see, if this person hadn't had an STD from being stupid, that kid wouldn't have gotten it," it also means "dang, not having sex isn't all that's required to keep you safe." You may only marginally have a choice about contracting diseases from air or food (live in a bubble?) but hey, it's still your choice to touch or be touched by other people, use the subway, or otherwise interact. Kinda scary, no?
Knowing the risks involved in certain activities won't always prevent us from making the choice to take the risk. It's important to know what's involved, but risk by itself isn't a decision-maker. That said, know the risks, and make informed decisions.