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March 8, 2004 | by  | in Opinion |
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Orientation Health

Are you a risk taker? Do you enjoy the thrill of the moment? Well it seems you’re in good company, according to Dr Karen Poutasi, Director-General of Health, young New Zealanders are inveterate risk takers. We soar to great heights, dive the deep oceans, throw ourselves off perfectly safe bridges, we drink till we pass out and worst of all we, out of all the developed countries, have a climbing rate of venereal disease; that is, we the youth of the nation are having unprotected sex, whether a one night drunken memory or a stone cold sober regular occurrence, and the ramifications of our actions might not be felt for years.

Now we all know about the fear and hysteria HIV/Aids caused in the early 1980’s, and rightly so, given that AIDS is currently killing 8000 people a day worldwide, HIV is not something that anyone would knowingly want to contract, but it seems that we have relatively faulty short-term memories: STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are on the rise now, whereas they had been in decline. We have forgotten the graphic advertisements, the heart rending pictures of HIV/AIDS victims like Eve Van Grafhorst, the paranoid behavior that led to the ostracizing of those with HIV/AIDS and most of all we have forgotten the fear of contracting the HIV virus or other similarly vicious diseases and that is the problem.

You see, a healthy dose of fear never hurt anyone, and quite frankly in this day and age will probably keep you alive and well for just that little bit longer. New Zealand is one of the leaders in the race to take out the crown for most venereal diseases, and this is not a good thing. Take for instance Chlamydia, not the world’s most widely recognized STI due to the fact it camouflages itself extremely well. New Zealand has one of the world’s highest rates for Chlamydial infections in young under 25s, and seventy percent of all cases reported were in people aged under 25. Sure, it isn’t going to kill you if you contract it, but, like thrush, it isn’t a nice thing to have. It’s curable, it’s a nuisance, but unlike thrush it can leave a woman infertile or if you’re unlucky cause an ectopic pregnancy. Think of Chlamydia as the party guest who arrives at your house uninvited, then sets up home in your downstairs bathroom unbeknownst to you. The problem with the Chlamydia epidemic that young people face today is that for eighty percent of women and ten percent of men the disease is asymptomatic, that is there are no signs, no symptoms, nothing to tell you that you have Chlamydia Trachomatis growing happily in your urogenital tracts. If you don’t know it is there then how can you treat it? It is the repetitive, untreated Chlamydial infections that can cause women to be sterile.

Just one dose of Chlamydia may cause you to be infertile, or to have PID (Pelvic Inflammatory disease), but it may not; you may get lucky by catching it, treating it and go on with healthy sexual organs all in tact. However, the more times you practice unsafe sex, as the statistics have shown young New Zealanders are prone to do, you increase your chances of catching a STI. Chlamydia is not the only offender on the premises, there are many out there. And guys, don’t think they aren’t out to get you, because they are and you are their next target. Consider Gonorrhea, which causes pus to build up and drip out of the urethra (for males), constipation and rectal bleeding in females and gay men, and last but not least it too can be asymptomatic and cause PID, or herpes simplex II, the guest that stays forever no matter what drug you throw at it. It stays to cause harm to babies during birth and generally kill them shortly thereafter.

Yes sir, it’s as they say it’s all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out, or in this case contracts an STI and possibly causes
themselves permanent damage along the way. Seriously, remember this no matter what the situation or who you are with, wearing a condom is the safest and easiest way of protecting yourself, and those you just happen to be with this Orientation, from the STIs that are lurking just around the corner waiting for new meat to arrive.

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