Friday, 21 December 2012

The High Cost of “Hooking Up”

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Hydeia Broadbent became somewhat of a mini-celebrity 20 years ago as a seven-year-old when she appeared on a Nickelodeon AIDS special. She appeared on the show with basketball great and HIV-positive athlete Magic Johnson — she had been diagnosed with AIDS, basically believed at the time to be a death sentence. She is still alive, and is a public-speaking dynamo. As an early recipient of anti-viral treatments that made AIDS a livable disease, one might expect her to be one of the many who reiterate their positive experiences having the disease, also inadvertently pooh-poohing the seriousness of the disease.

Not her. She does the opposite. She lays bare the consequences of having the disease, in order to encourage people to abstain from behaviors that might lead them to acquire it. She explained in a story for CNN: “If you’re HIV-negative, I would say ‘Stay that way.’ If you’re positive, I would say, ‘There’s life after a positive test, but it is a hassle.’”

As she told CNN last year, what she accomplishes in a day depends on how she feels:

There are days when Hydeia can’t get out of bed. Sometimes she is so sick her mornings are spent with her head hung over the toilet.

Every morning, she must take her cocktail of five pills. Her tiny frame is partly a result of medicine stunting her growth.

If it’s a good day, she goes to the gym to exercise. Staying fit is key to living with AIDS, she says. She eats healthy too, because a person with HIV/AIDS is more prone to cancer and heart disease....

“There’s so much misinformation. People think there’s a cure … ,” she said. “There is no cure.” …

Although a positive test result is no longer a death sentence, Hydeia says, “it’s a life sentence.”

“It’s always there. You’re always going to have HIV or AIDS. You’re always going to be taking medicine. You’re always going to be going to the doctor’s office. You’re always going to be getting your blood drawn.”

Her medicine costs $3,500 to $5,000 a month.

The story soberly added that “16,000 Americans will die this year from AIDS.”

Yet despite the very harsh realities of HIV/AIDS, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2010, in the United States, “for all races combined in the age group 15-24 years, HIV disease moved from the 12th leading cause of death in 2009 to the 11th leading cause of death in 2010.” It is the “7th leading cause of death in 2010 for the age group 25-44 years.”

Moreover, there are, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s “2010 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance,” about 47,000 new diagnoses of HIV made each year, with a lifetime cost for each person conservatively estimated at $379,668 — that’s $17,844,396,000 of medical costs added to an already overwhelmed and over-budgeted U.S. medical system yearly. (Note: Many people catch HIV by sharing intravenous needles, not via sex.)

There are also 19 million new infections of sexually transmitted gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis yearly, which cost $17 billion to treat each year. Then there are the costs to treat all of the other STDs — human papillomavirus, herpes, genital warts, hepatitis, trichomoniasis, scabies, etc. The World Health Organization says that there “are more than 30 different sexually transmissible bacteria, viruses and parasites.” Treatment for those in the United States is also in the billions of dollars per year — when they’re treatable and not drug resistant.

Whooping It Up Over Whooppee

Though it’s likely that literally everyone who is having sex is aware of STDs, such as herpes and HIV, and that STDs have consequences that include death, casual sex in our country is practically revered by youths and leftists. Sex on a whim, to them, is the be-all and end-all of life.

Accordingly, public schools, Hollywood celebs, and teen magazines often teach youths that no one should be allowed to tell them that they should not have sex until they are married, that every type and manner of sex is OK, and that having sex is just another bodily function and should be considered only with the same level of care as eating: Be careful about what you put in your body; try to prevent the transmission of pathogens via hygienic practices and barriers to disease transmission, such as latex products; and then dig in.

As well, even network TV tantalizes viewers with titillation and works to convince viewers that bed hopping is no big deal — everyone does it, with ones they love or ones they merely like. The term “friends with benefits” — friends who have sex with each other when no one better is available — is now such common slang that Hollywood used it as the basis for a movie.

Human nature being what it is, it’s really no surprise to learn that there’s not much difference between the percentage of youths who latch on to the “safe sex” message and the percentage of those who heed the appeals to participate in “uninhibited sex.” A CDC survey showed that about 60 percent of high-school students who have had sex used a condom the last time they had sex, and 50 percent of them say they’ve had sex at least once. That’s a lot of young people, with a lot of exposure to STDs. (Of course, in both cases there’s probably some false data: In the case of the number of youths having sex, many youths don’t consider oral sex to be sex at all, and so don’t count it.)

In 2008, according to an AP article entitled “1 in 4 teen girls has sexually transmitted disease,” not only did 25 percent of teenage girls have an STD, “among those who admitted to having sex, the rate was even more disturbing — 40 percent had an STD.” Black girls suffered worst: 48 percent of them had an STD, though blacks as a group are the most likely to use condoms, using them between 65 and 70 percent of the time.

Lest one believe the oft-cited refrain that such high rates of venereal disease in the United States demonstrate, as stated by Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, that “the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a … failure,” know that “abstinence-only” is far from national policy — with only 34 percent of school principals in a Kaiser study saying that their school’s “main message was abstinence-only” and with two-thirds of U.S. teens having had school lessons about condom usage. More importantly, it should be clear to all by studying France that sex-ed programs are a proven failure at eliminating such problems.

In France, sex education has been part of the school curricula since 1973, and students are given condoms in eighth and ninth grades. Moreover, in that country there can be no claims of hidden sexual repression influencing findings: Sex is not only part of the national dialogue, it’s part of the country’s national pride — alongside French cuisine — and public sex is not uncommon. Yet according to the World Health Organization, nearly 45 percent of French women tested under 25 years of age had sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). When women of all ages are considered, the evidence is equally damning: 12.8 percent of French women had HPV versus 7.3 percent for women of Western Europe as a whole. The worldwide HPV rate is 11.4 percent.

One Disease, Then Another

But sex-related diseases and costs go far beyond those directly associated with STDs. The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health stated that the human papillomavirus, which is “spread through direct skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal, and oral sex,” causes “virtually all cervical cancers” and “most anal cancers and some vaginal, vulvar, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers [cancers in the middle part of the throat].” And the risk isn’t limited to women. The title of a 2011 NBCNews.com article adequately sums up the situation: “Cancer spike, mainly in men, tied to HPV from oral sex.” The article added that “we can expect some 10,000 to 15,000 patients with (the [oropharyngeal] cancers) per year in the United States, with the great majority having HPV-positive (cancers).” All told, “High risk HPV infections account for approximately 5 percent of cancers worldwide.”

With the total cost of treating cancer in the United States in excess of $124.6 billion in 2010, the cost of treating cancer caused by HPV infections is likely upward of $6.23 billion per year — five percent of $124.6 billion. (This total is based on average costs from 2001 to 2006, before many expensive treatments were introduced, so costs now are likely higher.)

Also, according to the CDC, “Chlamydia and gonorrhea are important preventable causes of infertility,” even though “most women infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea have no symptoms.” There are “an estimated 2.8 million cases of chlamydia and 718,000 cases of gonorrhea [that] occur annually in the United States.” “Each year untreated STDs cause 24,000 women in the United States to become infertile.” STDs cause approximately one-fourth of all infertility in women, and treatment to rectify infertility can be very costly.

STDs also cause ectopic pregnancy, wherein a woman’s egg gets fertilized in her fallopian tubes, instead of her uterus, again causing a life-threatening situation.

And the effects of STDs travel further than between the couple having sex: The effects can get passed on to newborns. The CDC commented:

STDs can be passed from a pregnant woman to the baby before, during, or after the baby’s birth. Some STDs (like syphilis) cross the placenta and infect the baby while it is in the uterus (womb). Other STDs (like gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes) can be transmitted from the mother to the baby during delivery as the baby passes through the birth canal....

A pregnant woman with an STD may also have early onset of labor, premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby in the uterus, and uterine infection after delivery.

The harmful effects of STDs in babies may include stillbirth (a baby that is born dead), low birth weight (less than five pounds), conjunctivitis (eye infection), pneumonia, neonatal sepsis (infection in the baby’s blood stream), neurologic damage, blindness, deafness, acute hepatitis, meningitis, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis.

STDs truly are the gifts that keep on giving.

Too, taking “the pill” to avoid begetting any infants increases the risk of getting blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.

A study published in the June New England Journal of Medicine determined that some types of pill double the risk of heart attack and stroke. (Much of this extra risk is borne by smokers.) For every 10,000 pill users, there is approximately one extra heart attack and one extra stroke. Combined with the fact that the pill can cause high blood pressure, possibly damaging organs; more than double the increase in risk of blood clots in veins, called deep venous thrombosis; and cause pulmonary embolism, which is when blood clots break loose from a vein and go into the lungs — potentially causing death — taking the pill is akin to playing bingo in a very large room and waiting for your chance to “win” an ailment.

Taking the pill also frequently results in increased headaches and, rarely, in liver tumors.

And the pill isn’t the birth-control choice only of women in long-term monogamous relationships. A May report released by the CDC said that 60 percent of teen girls who have sex use the pill.

Though this is admittedly already a horrific list of physical consequences of sexual promiscuity — accompanied with a tab of many billions of dollars — it is far from an all-encompassing list. It really only covers some of the obvious “biggies.” It ignores such things as the blisters, lesions, sores, and pain that come with STDs and their complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease.

Moreover, to fully account for costs of the free-sex ethic, we must add emotional trauma and its consequences and treatment to the list of physical ailments.

Ouch, My Head/Heart Hurts

The emotional trauma that often comes with promiscuity includes, but is definitely not limited to, the embarrassment of having to tell someone with whom you want to become intimate that you have incurable herpes or HIV, telling your family that you’re dying of AIDS, or grieving over the knowledge that your herpes caused your newborn to be blind or brain damaged.

The online article “Life With Herpes: One Woman’s Story” recounts a woman named Angela’s experience with contracting herpes:

In the summer of 1995, Angela, who was 25 at the time, felt like she had the flu and found it difficult and painful to urinate. She saw a doctor and, after being treated with several different medications for a possible bladder infection, felt worse than ever. “At the end of the three weeks I was miserable, couldn’t walk and the pain was beyond description,” she said.

Angela finally insisted on a vaginal examination and was diagnosed with genital herpes....

She later realized she had contracted the virus from a sexual contact two weeks earlier. She was angry that her partner hadn’t informed her he had herpes.... Shocked, terrified and alone, she struggled to find support and information about her disease.

Her physician wasn’t helpful. “He basically handed me a box of tissues and told me my life would never be the same and sent me on my way.” …

The emotional effects of having genital herpes have been as painful for Angela as the physical effects. “The first year I was ashamed, got flare ups all the time and didn’t have anybody I trusted to talk to about what was happening in my life,” she said. Frustrated by the lack of support systems where she lived, Angela started her own support group....

The HELP group meets monthly and offers a confidential environment where people can relate to others experiencing similar difficulties.... Herpes support groups allow attendees to vent their feelings, which can range from denial, depression, isolation and intense anger.

The CDC states that “nationwide, 16.2% [of], or about one out of six, people aged 14 to 49 years have genital HSV-2 infection” — one of two types of genital herpes. Women are more apt to catch it than men. Insidiously, the disease can move to different areas of the body: “If a person with genital herpes touches their sores or the fluids from the sores, they may transfer herpes to another part of the body. This is particularly problematic if it is a sensitive location such as the eyes.”

Then there’s the litany of findings that were released in 2003 by the Heritage Foundation, compiled from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Survey of Family Growth, in which 10,000 sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 44 were interviewed about both their sex lives and their lives in general.

The study, which asked women about how early in their lives they initiated voluntary sexual encounters, found that the younger a girl is when she becomes sexually active, the more likely she is to give birth out of wedlock. (At the time of the study, “nearly 40 percent of girls who commence sexual activity at ages 13 or 14 will give birth outside of marriage [versus] … 9 percent of women who begin sexual activity at ages 21 or 22”). Starting sex earlier also correlated to higher levels of child and maternal poverty, increased single motherhood, more abortions, more unstable marriages (once they did get married), decreased personal happiness, and increased ­depression.

Servings of sex came with heaping helpings of emotional pain, mental pain, and stress.


Please, Sir, May I Have Some More

Here again, the negative effects snowball. It’s clearly evident in a Heritage Foundation study entitled “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty” that over the years as the free-sex ideology has increasingly found acceptance, single motherhood has jumped dramatically — “in 2010 nearly 60 percent of all births in the U.S. were to single mothers,” while “in 1964, 93 percent of children born in the United States were born to married parents.” Moreover, as “free sex” and single motherhood took hold, poverty has prospered.

As the report says,

According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate for single parents with children in the United States in 2009 was 37.1 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.8 percent. Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 82 percent.

And single motherhood costs this country dearly. In terms of dollars, the Heritage report stated:

In fiscal year 2011, federal and state governments spent over $450 billion on means-tested welfare for low-income families with children. Roughly three-quarters of this welfare assistance, or $330 billion, went to single-parent families. Most non-marital births are currently paid for by the taxpayers through the Medicaid system, and a wide variety of welfare assistance will continue to be given to the mother and child for nearly two decades after the child is born. On average, the means-tested welfare costs for single parents with children amount to around $30,000 per household per year.

And that’s just a part of the “economic costs.” There are other heavy costs.

Studies have shown that 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes, as are 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children, 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders, 80 percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger, and 85 percent of youths in prison. As well, single parenting results in a lower likelihood of graduating from high school for kids.

And women, who are already more inclined to abuse their children than are men, become more likely to abuse their children when they have a heavier “parenting and housework load.” Even when the children of single-mother homes do have a man in the picture, it’s not all good. According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, “Unrelated male figures and stepfathers in households tend to be more abusive than biological, married fathers.” The report specifically says:

Children who live in father-absent homes often face higher risks of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect than children who live with their fathers. A 1997 Federal study indicated that the overall rate of child maltreatment among single-parent families was almost double that of the rate among two-parent families: 27.4 children per thousand were maltreated in single-parent families, compared to 15.5 per thousand in two-parent families. One national study found that 7 percent of children who had lived with one parent had ever been sexually abused, compared to 4 percent of children who lived with both biological parents.

And the wounds from maltreatment run deep. Remuda Ranch, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading eating disorder treatment center,” said that “more than 50 percent of its patients have experienced trauma in their lives. The trauma is usually sexual, physical and emotional abuse.” It added: “Forty-nine percent of our patients have experienced childhood sexual abuse.”

Remuda gave a brief explanation of how eating disorders may be generated from abuse:

Research has shown that childhood sexual abuse increases binge-eating, purging, restricting calories, body shame and body dissatisfaction. Eating disorders become a way of helping victims cope with shame. They feel they may need to modify their body in ways that reduce shame or distress. For example, a woman suffering from trauma and an eating  disorder may wish to reduce her breast size in order to appear less feminine and therefore, less appealing to men because of her past history of abuse.

A girl named Kacy at Pandora’s Project, a resource for victims of rape and sexual abuse, related the story of her abuse:

About twice a year my family would fly out to where my grandparents lived. Thats how my young life started, being violently raped and abused over and over again [by my grandfather]. And thats how the sexual abuse continued throughout my entire childhood.

When I reached 9th grade, I was sent away to an all girls boarding school. I had been in and out of schools every year of high school and when I was in 11th grade (in yet again, a new school) thats where I met perp #2. She was my teacher, and I confided in her, the secret that I had been holding in all those years. She responded with kindness and compassion. But soon after, she went on to take advantage of my vulnerability, and continued the horrid pattern that my life had claimed. She would crawl into my bed at night and exploit and shatter whatever human part of me my grandfather had left behind. She stole any innocence that had been forgotten, she tore me apart once again — leaving me more broken than I had ever been.

The next two years went by, filled with numbness and unbearable pain. Filled with emotions I had never known existed. Filled with an emptiness that was so hollow, I was a walking dead person. The endless amount of sleepless nights became a ritual in my twisted schedule. The daily confusion and absolute loss that consumed me is indescribable. This torturous hell was my life as I had come to know it.

Porn’s Part

Sadly, according to Dr. Laura Berman, “up to one-third of the sexual abuse in this country is committed by minors. (It is worth noting that while a small percentage of those who are sexually abused become abusers, almost all child abusers — adult or otherwise — are victims of sexual abuse).” And for this, pornography — another segment of the “sexual freedom” mantra — can be partially blamed.

An article entitled “Children as Victims,” about the effect of porn on children, reported the following statistic: “A Los Angeles Police Department study of every child molestation case referred to them over a ten-year period, found that in 60% of the cases adult or child pornography was used to lower the inhibitions of the children molested and/or to excite and sexually arouse the pedophile.” Also, “87% of convicted molesters of girls and 77% of convicted molesters of boys admit to using pornography, most often in the commission of their crimes.” Let’s not forget that, as Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Diaz said in an AP article, demand for child porn — images and videos of children being “raped by adults” — is increasing rapidly, and increasing numbers of children are abused to satisfy the demand: “This demand leads to the abuse of children, yet there is this misconception that somehow, viewing child pornography is a victimless crime.” Diaz prosecuted one member of a global child porn ring, a ring in which the members had hundreds of thousands of images on their computers of children being abused.

Many users of porn would likely dismiss its use as innocuous, but the preponderance of evidence shows that it has a cost far beyond its huge — but unknowable — dollar costs. (The most popular “adult website” on the Web gets “32 million visitors a month, or almost 2.5% of all Internet users!” according to a Forbes interview of scientists who crunched the numbers.) Not only do children act out things they see during porn viewing, even committing rape, but, according to psychologist Steve Livingston, porn may similarly affect “vulnerable” adults by “strengthen[ing] existing violent proclivities.” Moreover, he added, experts haven’t yet investigated whether there are ties between jurors using porn and the likelihood they’ll convict rapists.

Additionally, porn has the same addicting physiological effects as gambling; it causes men to desire more and more graphic sexual imagery to remain stimulated; it causes men to objectify women and see them merely as sperm receptacles; and it causes men and women to have problems with emotional intimacy. According to a news release entitled “Internet Porn Ruining Male-Female Relationships, Studies Show” for Jim Wysong, the author of The Neutering of the American Male, “In a 20,000-person study recently conducted by TED.com [a website containing “remarkable” speeches], porn is the most prevalently cited obstacle for romantic relationships between men and women in their teens and 20s. Women say guys are emotionally unavailable, and men say porn makes them less interested in pursuing a relationship.”

One woman told about her porn experience with the man in her life:

My ex told me that he knew porn was an “addiction” for him. He used that term, and he said he wanted to stop and that because he couldn’t porn had “ruined his life.” He also showed me a scar from [performing a sex act] to the point of bleeding because he was unable to stop.

He said porn made him want to cheat all the time, and made him constantly fantasize about “nasty” sex with strangers, and young (teen) girls.... He would become agitated, irritable and mean when he could not look at porn because I was home, and he would become so angry and abusive due to frustration that I would unwittingly give him what he wanted by leaving. He would also abandon me places and run home and get online.

And porn has other, even more dramatic, effects: It causes men both to instigate sex that is actually physically painful to the woman and to even completely lose the ability to have sex with an actual woman. Sex, for a heavy porn user, often becomes reduced to self-stimulation while watching pornographic videos.

And that’s what some people call sexual freedom.

Sex and Security

The problems with porn and a lack of sexual restraint are societal and, believe it or not, actually even have a negative effect on U.S. national defense and crime-fighting. During the Cold War with Russia, it was common to hear of diplomats and military personnel turning traitor through a “honeytrap” — an intelligence operative using sex. Even now weak willpower and sex could easily lead to secrets being leaked. In recent months, nine Secret Service agents responsible for protecting the president were forced out of their positions after they engaged in liaisons with prostitutes while doing advanced work for the president’s trip to Colombia; four-star general and director of the CIA David Petreaus admitted to having an extramarital affair with a woman named Paula Broadwell and resigned; presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, and Herman Cain were involved in trysts with women who were not their wives; and Bill Clinton had a sexual encounter with Monica Lewinsky in the White House. Who knows what deals these men were willing to make — or did make — to protect their prestige and not get exposed diddling around. Meanwhile, last July the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency had to warn its staff not to watch porn on U.S. government computers. (Gee, I wonder if computer viruses embedded in porn videos could allow hackers to gain access to government computers?)

Dangers and crimes that threaten U.S. citizens have been allowed to slide because of sexual obsessions: Dozens of members of the Securities and Exchange Commission, tasked with monitoring the country’s financial system, watched porn at workfor up to eight hours a day — instead of responding to credible, repeated accusations against Bernie Madoff, who was eventually caught running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

The list of problems and costs associated with the free-sex mantra go on and on. Not covered here are its implications for abortion, sex trafficking, and drug and alcohol use, among others.

In response to the weighty evidence aligned against them, the best libertines could do in the way of defense of their ideology — the best defense I could find — came from a young woman writing for Salon.com in an article entitled “In defense of casual sex.” She claims that numerous sexual exploits “lead to better adult relationships.” She believes that it’s good to try “on different men to see how they fit.” Women are “romantically vetting — and being vetted.... Hopefully, by taking several test-drives before buying, we’ll be happier with our final investment.” (And as a feminist she likes “empowerment,” “respect,” and “choice” — meaning she wants to do what she feels, whenever she feels.)

Of course, studies don’t back her up (and it is possible to vet possible spouses without having sex), but there it is.

U.S. Representative Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) makes a good point about the propensity of schools — and others — to promote sexual freedom:

How would it look if the federal government took the same approach to reducing teenage drinking that it takes to reducing teenage pregnancies? … School programs would teach teens how to drink, but also encourage them to use good judgment through messages like: “Wait until you know you are ready before you have your first drink.” … They would be told: “The only one who can decide when you are ready to drink is you.”

Knowing what we know about teenagers and their ability to assess risk and act accordingly, this sort of approach sounds ludicrous. Nevertheless, that’s precisely the approach we’ve been taking to sex ed for dec­ades.... We do it right in other areas. Teens are simply told “no” when it comes to other risky activities like smoking, drinking, and driving below a certain age.

He added that a government report entitled “A Better Approach to Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Sexual Risk Avoidance” gave the science fortifying his claims.

Moreover, it seems as if liberals subconsciously acknowledge the damage that’s done by their teachings, even as they promulgate their views: In so-called sex-ed classes, students learn little about STDs (except perhaps HIV/AIDS), according to a study reported on by ScienceDaily, even though additional details go a long way toward keeping youth abstinent.

In a sense liberals are correct: Sex is just another physical activity that people do — such as eating, sleeping, and exercising — but it is also much more than that. It changes behavior, moods, attitudes, views of self-worth, moral constraints, and more, and so-called free sex is nowhere near being “free.” It imposes heavy costs on both individuals and society, and the chance that anyone who participates in the free-sex lifestyle — or their children — will remain unscathed is low.

Since this information is not hard to find, any individual or organization that takes a public position pushing a free-sex ideology goes far beyond the point of being simply ignorant to being brainwashed, stupid, depraved, or in serious denial. Where do you stand on the issue?