Friday, 8 June 2012

Wake up with an STD !

As many  people approach the end of their school days and are looking to move to University or go off on holiday with their mates for perhaps their first "big holiday", maybe we should consider a nasty, unspeakable menace lurking in the underwear of an unlucky few. Maybe it is British reserve, but it is a subject which I believe is sadly neglected by parents and authorities. There is a collective head in the sand attitude to the issue.

A few years ago a group of students were shown pictures of 100 people, 20 of whom had a sexually transmitted disease. They were asked to guess which of the 20 had an STD. A rather strange pattern emerged. The 20 most commonly picked were also picked out by a separate group of students as being the ugliest. Would it surprise you to find out that of the 20 picked out, 4 actually had an STD. In short the statistical probability of the people picked having an STD was exactly the same as the larger group of 100. Oddly, the 20 most attractive actually had 6 people with an STD a rate 50% higher (although with such a small sample, not really statistically significant).

In recent years there has been a substancial increase in the rate of STD's amongst younger people in the UK. For example the number of new diagnoses of genital warts in GUM clinics in the UK has increased by almost 30 percent since 1999. Genital warts are the most common viral STD diagnosed in the UK: in 2008 there were 92,525 diagnoses of genital warts in UK GUM clinics. The highest rates of diagnoses were among women aged 16-19 and men aged 20-24.

We have to ask the question as to what exactly we are doing wrong with regards to sex education. Telling anyone (young, middle aged or older) not to have sex is simply unrealistic and flying in the face of human nature. I suspect that STD's will always be with us, but there are plenty of things which the government could do to lessen the impact.

Here are a few things I believe we should consider

1) All students should be tested for STD's on enrollment at University, as a compulsory measure. Any students identified could be given a course of treatment. There is a good reason for this. During the first term (especially during freshers week), students are statistically far more likely to have sex with a stranger than at any other time during their University career. Ensuring all students were aware of any issues and hopefully treated for them would significantly reduce the chance of onward transmission. There are many reasons for the likelyhood, being "on your own" and able to get plastered should not be underestimated as a factor.

2) A significant factor in the transmission of diseases is teenagers on nightclub holidays. Telling people that they shouldn't have sex with strangers in Ibiza or other hotspots is quite simply not going to work. What may be a more productive avenue is to educate them to have an STD test on return, if they've had sex with a stranger (or multiple strangers). I would word the leaflets along the lines "If you meet someone you really like and then you give them a dose, that will be the end of a lovely relationship".

3) This is the hardest one of all. I would urge parents to make sure their kids get a test if they've been having unprotected sex with strangers, be it at freshers week, in the toilets in a nightclub in Ibiza or behind the bike sheds at the Dog & Duck. I doubt that many parents want to think they may be "a normal teenager" when it comes to their sexual desires and appetite, and may be shagging around, but if you really care about them, make sure they take care of themselves.

I'd urge everyone to check out this website - - and give these issues some thought. Now is an excellent time for those of us with teenagers to consider these issues. In a month or so, those doing A Levels will be ready to leave school, maybe go on holiday with their mates and then go to University. We all think that such things never happen to us or our children. I hope that for all of us this is true. Sadly the statistics tell us a different story. Give this some consideration.

And sorry if I ruined your breakfast this morning, especially if you got lucky with a total stranger last night.


Don't Call Me Dave said...

Compulsory STD tests for university students? Welcome to Stalinist Britain.

Rog T said...


I suppose the US army is Stalinist as well then. What is your solution or do you just think we should let people live with life threatening diseases and not know about it

Don't Call Me Dave said...

The idea of telling people that they must have an STD test before starting at university is deeply offensive and a massive infringement of human rights and personal freedom. Just because the US Army does it, doesn’t make it right.

What if someone refuses the test on the reasonable grounds that they either abstain from sex or only practise safe sex? Will they be excluded from attending? What if someone refuses on the even more reasonable grounds that it is none of the university’s business.

What about people who don’t attend university until later in life? Do they have to have tests as well? Or can you exclude them because of age? If so, what age? What you are suggesting is highly dangerous state control. Where will it end? Why not impose a curfew on all men at night to prevent attacks on women. Let’s close all the pubs to stop drunk drivers. Children should be wrapped in cotton wool in case they fall over. And let’s close down the internet as well because a few people use it in an unlawful way.

The most important lesson in life is that actions have consequences. People must take responsibility for their own actions. In a free and democratic country you cannot punish the majority because of the actions of a small minority.

Rog T said...

Firstly people lie, especially about sex. If they have abstained, they will have nothing to worry about will they?

What about the human rights of people infected by dangerous diseases. It would be up to them whether they received treatment.

As someone who had a life threatening disease detected early, by a test I thought unnecessary, I'd give everyone a compulsory MOT at 50 as well.

You may call it a nanny state and claim personal freedom and human rights (odd how Tories detest these till it suits them) but I call it sensible, practical and a good way to save money, as diseases treated earlya re far cheaper to deal with.

And yes, I'd refuse to admit anyone who refused, especially mature students as they should know better.

Rog T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morris Hickey said...

The very idea that a practice of the US Army is of itself a justification is, frankly, risible. Rendition? Guantanamo Bay?

I have never forgotten the films about STDs shown during RAF recruit training more than 56 years ago. I see them almost as vividly now as I did then. There are some subjects for which shock tactics are appropriate. This is one such subject. Perhaps showing such films to Year 12 students as part of PHSE is the way.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


I don’t know if you are just trying to wind me up, but on the assumption that you are being serious in what you have just said, this is dangerous nonsense.

Many thousands of young people, through deeply held religious or moral convictions, abstain from pre-marital sexual relationships. I challenge you to tell a young female Muslim student that she cannot attend university until she agrees to undergo an invasive medical procedure.

It is not a criminal offence to be a carrier of an STD. You cannot catch one from sitting next to someone in the classroom. If you engage in unprotected sex without first ascertaining the sexual health of your partner, then you have to accept responsibility for what happens.

And if you start compulsory testing, where does it stop? You might be clear on day 1 and infected by day 2. Shall we have tests every week? Should we ban students with STDs from campus?

You say that people can lie about their sexual health. This whole concept of “if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear” is the mantra of the anti-libertarian hard left. In this country, people are innocent until proven guilty. You are advocating a Trotskyite policy that says we are all guilty until proven innocent.

Rog T said...


In my experience most people (and this includes young female muslims) are quite sensible and practical about health. It may surprise you to know that first person who suggested that this may be a good idea was a friend who is muslim and female. She happens to have children of University age and was worried about what they may be exposing themselves to.

I'm not a moraliser who says you should or shouldn't do things. I am someone who believes that in an imperfect world we sometimes need imperfect solutions.

I think Morris has a point when he talks about shock tactics. Too many young people have only the vaguest notion that they could be putting their health at risk by having sex with a stranger.

I think that the current system, where we see ever rising numbers of STD cases, abortions & teenage pregnancies tells us that we most certainly haven't got things right as they are.