Sexual Education in SD
Youth (Aged 13-24) account for 26% of new infections every year in the United States, despite constituting only 17% of the population. As a member of the “youth”, these numbers concern me. However, there is a number more worrisome: “Over 50% of youth with HIV in the United States do not know they are infected.” (CDC) This startling amount of ignorance begs the question: “How do we inform people about HIV?”.
Of course, not one single answer exists to solve this problem, but I believe there is an obvious step we can take in the right direction: improved sexual education.
South Dakota state law does not require sexual education be taught in public schools. Schools are also not required to provide any sort of STD education. Speaking from personal experience, safe sex was not brought up once in my entire high school career. No one explained how to use a condom, how HIV was transmitted, or how to tell a partner you were not ready for sex; I could not even tell you if the counselors had condoms available because there was so much silence surrounding the whole topic.
Over five-hundred people are living with HIV in South Dakota. (DOH) It is an issue that affects all of us. HIV is a virus; it does not care about your gender, sexual orientation, race or religious affiliation. We need to be educating the youth of this state, of this nation. My peers and I should have been educated and I hope it is not too late.
If there is a youth in your life, please make sure they are informed. Any awkwardness will pale in comparison to how important this information is. Here are a few useful links.