Monday, November 24, 2008

My favorite safer sex pamphlet

I pick up safer sex pamphlets wherever I find them, and so far my favorite is the Fenway Health Center's pamphlet. It gives a much broader range of sexual activities than any I've seen, and lists exactly which STDs are transmissible by them, and which STDs are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact so cannot be protected against by condoms.

A real problem in sex ed is how to talk about the skin-to-skin contact STDs. Sometimes they don't get mentioned except in an oblique way such as "The safest sex is no sex at all. Condoms cannot make you 100% safe." which can be read by the optimistic as implying 90% protection against all diseases. (In the abstinence-only literature, it's phrased as "Condoms can leave you vulnerable to many horrible diseases." which sounds like condoms are no good at all.) I like that this pamphlet treats STDs as individual entities each with their own transmission risks, rather than over-simplifying them.

They do not mention which STDs are commonly tested for in different clinical settings and which tests may need to be specially requested, which is an unfortunate gap because testing practices vary and many people speak of STDs as something tested for as if there were just one test for all known STDs when some STDs aren't tested for at all (e.g., as far as I know, no one screens men for HPV.)

1 comment:

Hal said...

As far as I know, there IS no screen for HPV in men. Well, short of seeing warts in the strains that cause them.