Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Abstinence Only Sex Ed

If you attended a religious school like mine (or a public school with "abstinence only" sex ed) and had religious, shy, or ignorant parents, chances are you weren't given all the information you need to remain STD-free and prevent unwanted pregnancy. Please fill the gaps in your education yourself. Parents, please teach your children even if you don't want them to have sex.

I know from first-hand experience that a significant number of Orthodox Jewish teens are sexually active. And not just the "bad kids," either. Don't let denial of this fact lead children to unnecessary disease and unwanted pregnancy.

Most young people begin having sex in their mid-to-late teens, about 8 years before they marry.

By age 18, about 71% of U.S. youth have had sexual intercourse.

A recent New York Times article found that 88% of teenagers who had taken abstinence pledges reported having sexual intercourse before marriage. Of these teenagers, many are less likely to know that they have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, and are therefore more likely to transmit STDs to others...

Three out of ten teenage men become sexually active before they have received any school instruction on AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, and the correct use of the condom, or how to say no to intercourse. (source)

Some Facts You Might Not Know

  • Emergency Contraception works. If, for whatever reason, you had unprotected sex, you forgot to take your pill, or your condom breaks, you can get your doctor to prescribe emergency contraception pills for up to 72 hours. "ECPs reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75-89 percent when the first dose is taken within 72 hours... The sooner you start it, the more effective." ECPs act before implantation occurs, so they are not the same as "the abortion pill," Mifepristone or RU-486. For up to 5 days afterwards, your doctor can insert an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD.)

  • How to use condoms properly. "Of 100 women whose partners use condoms, about 15 will become pregnant during the first year of typical use. Only two women will become pregnant with perfect use." More protection against pregnancy is possible if condoms are used with a spermicide foam, cream, jelly, suppository, or film.

  • HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) can be transmitted through cunnilingus (oral-vaginal), fellatio (oral-penile), and analingus (oral-anal.) HIV transmission is very rare, but possible, through cunnilingus. HIV transmission can occur through fellatio even if there is no ejaculation.

  • Certain STDs like Herpes and Warts can be transmitted even when using a condom.

Be safe, teach your kids, and encourage schools to teach all the kids.


Laura said...

Good advice for all. How can you protect yourself from something if you're ignorant of the facts?!

This is a hot-button issue for me because throughout most of the world (excepting the "developed" countries) women have little or no sexual choice. AIDS is exploding in these countries because women are kept ignorant of their rights and powerless to enact the rights they supposedly do have.

Education is the first step.

asher said...

This is a topic my wife and I argue about all the time. AIDs is 100% preventable and you'd have to be on the moon not to know that. More people died from the common cold in this country that died from AIDs. It is amazing how much publicity this disease gets. Although half a million people died from heart disease last year, you don't see it getting as much publicity. And the biggest complainers about the government not spending enough money on aids reaseach is whom? Right..the gay lobby. The very folks who were so pissed off when the GOVERNMENT had to come in close down the bath houses since they wouldn't do it on their own.

The STD no one talks about is chylemdia which is probably in plague proportions by now. I wonder why it's never discussed.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Just checking out the competition:)

Jewish Atheist said...

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew,

I remember one of my Rabbis giving some long talk about whether we should be "Jewish Americans" or "American Jews."

I think we should look him up and see what he has to say about our labels. :)

Laura said...

Asher said: "AIDs is 100% preventable and you'd have to be on the moon not to know that"

You have a very ethnocentric point of view. I agree with you that you'd have to be living under a rock in THIS country to not know about AIDS. But globally, there are a lot of people who aren't getting the correct information. AIDS still carries a huge stigma, and in many areas there are cultural taboos preventing infected people from disclosing their illness.

"More people died from the common cold in this country that died from AIDs"

That may be true, but there is one HUGE difference between the two diseases:

AIDS is a death sentence. If you are HIV positive, it is going to kill you. If you can afford drugs, you may be able to prolong your life, but it will kill you no matter how old or young or rich or poor you are. In contrast, the common cold kills those who are already weak.

And by focusing on THIS country, you're missing the global picture:

People living with HIV and AIDS Total - 40.3 million
Adults -38.0 million
Women -17.5 million
Children<15 -2.3 million

This number is growing. We have to do something. To sit idly by and say "well they should know better" is completely ignorant.

Jewish Atheist said...


8,000 people die of AIDS every day. We're doing better in America, but non-Americans are people, too.

AIDs is 100% preventable and you'd have to be on the moon not to know that.

People are raped by men who have HIV. People are lied to about their partner's HIV status. Many people live in countries that can't afford condoms. The United States government has taken action to prevent people in other countries from using condoms. In many cultures, women don't have the ability to keep men from having sex with them or to make them wear condoms. In Africa, misinformation about AIDS is rampant, with some countries' leaders denying even that HIV causes AIDS.

Asher, your comments consisently display an ignorance that, when combined with what seems to be supreme confidence in yourself, is really troubling. You make silly comments about evolution that reveal you have no understanding whatsoever about the theory, plainly false statements about chimps in the previous post, and a complete lack of knowledge and compassion about HIV/AIDS in this one. Moreover, even after being corrected and directed to more complete information, you persist in your ignorant statements.

It's one thing to be ignorant -- ignorance can be changed. It's another to be willfully, blissfully ignorant. I mean this in the nicest way possible -- go read some books.

Sadie Lou said...

I got into a debate with my brother-in-law about birth control. He says birth control isn't biblical and I firmly and passionately disagree.
It saddens me to see my Christian brothers and sisters so ignorant on this issue.
There are Christian ministries in Africa that just promote safe sex and pass out condoms as well as try to promote monogamy in marriage and abstinance in the youth as well as sex education. The Bible says that children are a blessing, yes, but that doesn't argue that people should be popping out children irresponsibly.
It also doesn't mean that people shouldn't protect themselves against disease.
Consider this scenario:
You are a faithful, married couple. Your husband undergoes a surgery where he gets a blood transfusion. He contracts the AIDS virus. Should he not protect his wife from contracting the virus?
This should be a non issue.

Shlomo said...

I recently found out that one of my heroes, Isaac Asimov, died from HIV that he contracted from a blood transfusion.

Although there is valid concern re:STDs and HIV, I think the religious reich is using those circumstances to further their abstinence agenda by inciting the FEAR of sex in everyone.

We are slowly morphing into a world of blood tests, latex body wraps, hazmat suits, and background checks before we do anything remotely social. I'm sick of it already.

When do we get back to being human beings?

asher said...

Good to know I am ignorant.

Please tell me which people in america, or anywere for that matter cannot afford condoms? Not wearing them is another matter.

The horrible Bush administration has allocated something like 4 billion dollars to fight Aids in Africa. Now this would include education, condoms, medicine and health facilities. Wouldn't that money be better off spent educating our children about this very disease. Helping the poor, building hospitals, and looking for a cure to cancer?

By the way, if you are HIV positive it doesn't mean you are going to get AIDs. Last I heard Magic Johnson is going strong after having sex with 1,000 of women and being HIV+....what is it 15 years now?

Why aren't they working on a cure for chylmedia? Wouldn't that be money well spent?

What about Tay Sachs disease that only affects Ashkenazi Jews?

What about anorexia nervosa which affects about 1% of all teenage girls in America.

Our children should be learning about all these things including the oncoming pandemic of the avian flu.

Sorry you don't like my attitude. I thought this was a discussion blog.

Freud considered himself a Godless Jew (Book by Peter Gay). An athiest, by defintion, cannot be a jew.

Jewish Atheist said...

Please tell me which people in america, or anywere for that matter cannot afford condoms?

"More than 1.2 billion people—one in every five on earth—survive on less than $1 a day." (source:

Last I heard Magic Johnson is going strong after having sex with 1,000 of women and being HIV+....what is it 15 years now?

Magic Johnson is a multimillionaire and an elite athlete. The drug regimens are extremely expensive and certainly out of reach for most Africans with HIV.

Sorry you don't like my attitude. I thought this was a discussion blog.

And you're welcome to discuss. I just think you'd want to do something about your ignorance. For example in this very comment, you could have looked up how much money people in poorer countries make and compared it to the cost of condoms. That would have prevented you from making your ignorant comment that implied everyone in the world can afford condoms. 1.2 billion people, 1$ per day.

Freud considered himself a Godless Jew (Book by Peter Gay). An athiest, by defintion, cannot be a jew.

Another ignorant comment. You're talking about a "definition," but you haven't bothered to take three seconds to look one up.'s first two definitions are:

# An adherent of Judaism as a religion or culture.
# A member of the widely dispersed people originally descended from the ancient Hebrews and sharing an ethnic heritage based on Judaism."

Shlomo said...

Einstein was also a 'godless' Jew in the same sense that Freud was. Being Jewish is a cultural phenomena, not merely a religious one. In addition, being a Jew is also baout how one is treated by non-Jews. In 19th and up to mid 20th century Germany/Austria, Jews of any persuasion were forbidden from engaging in certain professions. (Paul Ehrlich, the father of modern immunology, taught for six years in a German University without a salary becuase it was against the law.)

Judaism is very much defined by how the goyim treat us and how we are forced to react.

Shlomo said...

Many African countries are infected with the same ridiculous religious fundamentalism that seems to be growing in the US, and will NOT use condoms. That can be coupled with rampant illiteracy, civil unrest (which invariably leads to child rape), and abject poverty which leads more and more young women (and men) into prostitution.

When one is starving today or has a child that is starving, it becomes difficult and counterproductive in the moment to argue over condoms when a man is offering money or food. If she abstains, the baby dies now. If she gives in, maybe she dies in a couple years, but the child still survives. In Africa, life is an act of sheer desperation each and every day. We should never know such horror.

Laura said...

The problems in Africa and Thailand and other places where AIDS is exploding has to do with traditional culture, or as SL put it the "ridiculous religious fundamentalism"... this doesn't mean christian necessarily. In many places in Africa, a person can be put out of the community and left to die alone if they admit to having AIDS because they believe its punishment from God/s. In other areas "folk cures" such as having sex with a virgin will cure HIV predominate over scientific information. The only things that will help these situations is education about the disease and how it spreads.

In other areas, women are powerless to force men who won't use condoms (because they are a threat to their virility). Empowerment of women is another step to preventing this disease. Did you know that because of patriarchal cultural traditions that treat women as property in places like Thailand, that a woman has no power to prevent her husband from sleeping around with prostitutes, and that married women in Thailand are twice as likely to be infected with HIV than unmarried women?

How is the purchase of condoms going to help those women? It won't. The issue is bigger than simply buying condoms.

Laura said...

Here's a good informational pamphlet from the WHO about women & AIDS that addresses the complexity of the issue beyond simple condom purchase...

Jewish Atheist said...

Laura, looks like the link is broken. I think this (.pdf) is what you meant.

Laura said...

whoops.... yes, thanks.

Orthoprax said...


Actually, to an extent I agree with Asher. But hear me out.

I think it's ridiculous to show American victims of AIDS as the patients for whom AIDS research should be done. More than anything else they are victims of human maliciousness, selfishness and stupidity - not the disease. There is no one in America who doesn't know what AIDS is and how it is transmitted.

But there are those who don't care about the consequences and sleep around without protection. And there are those who are _victims_ of human criminals who spread the disease and put others in danger without care.

AIDS would be eradicated in America if people paid attention and those who spread it maliciously (i.e. rapes or by not telling their partners) were put in prisons. For Americans, advanced scientific AIDS research is largely pointless.

Though I do think it is a serious issue worldwide. But again, AIDS is better fought through attacking ignorance and punishing perpetrators than spending billions on research.

Laura said...

Orthoprax, you do make a good argument, and in part I agree. Education, ending poverty, imperialism, and oppression will undoubtedly do more in the short run to stop the spread of AIDS. But you take a very fatalistic approach to disease prevention. I read your statements as sying "well, there's no cure or vaccine, so why try to find one". Imagine if we'd said that about smallpox, polio, malaria, and a host of other diseases?

Jewish Atheist said...

Orthoprax, I largely agree with you with regard to HIV/AIDS prevention in the USA. However, I strongly disagree with asher about the rest of the world, where both money and education would still go a very long way.

There are two points about the US that you didn't mention, though. One is that abstinence-only sex education is dangerous and leads to more STDs than does real sex ed (even though obviously abstinence is the most effective way of preventing transmission.) The other is that HIV treatment could still be drastically improved. We've made amazing progress, but a vaccine or cure would still save millions of lives.

Orthoprax said...


"I read your statements as sying "well, there's no cure or vaccine, so why try to find one". Imagine if we'd said that about smallpox, polio, malaria, and a host of other diseases?"

You're right. AIDS should be fought in the laboratory just as all those other diseases were fought. But they didn't aspire to the ridiculous political heights that AIDS has gotten to. When people focus on AIDS or breast cancer or any of these "special case" diseases, they are doing a disservice in research for the rest of the world's ailments and maladies.

Every medical scientist who spends his time on AIDS is a scientist who doesn't spend his time on Tuberculosis or any other serious disease. And I really believe that AIDS is so much more easily _preventable_ than other infectious diseases. It can be stopped by fighting ignorance.

Laura said...

Orthoprax, I see your point and agree with you in part. I think you and I both agree that eliminating poverty is probably the best preventer of most any disease (maybe excepting certain cancers whose causes are unknown)...

Anonymous said...

I am confused. How can one be Jewish and an aethiest? Does being Jewish refer to race or religion?

Being a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim implies religious denomination only. For example, the Popular musician Cat Stevens and the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay are both muslims yet they are both of different ethnicity.

Aren't you supposed to say that you are an American who was formerly a Jew? Is a Jew a racial denomination? I thought the denomination was 'Semite', which is racially inclusive of Arabs.

If you can be a Jew and not be religious then I can understand the logic behind the arguments that Henry Ford put forward in the 1920s.

If being Jewish is synonymous with following a religious faith then Ford's propositions were misplaced.