What are the odds of catching something from this girl? Threepio! Oh where can he bee!...
July 25, 2006 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Help me find some non-conservative no taboo something I can use resources on sex education for adults

Video, website, book... Im a university student which I suspect is a risky demographic. I dont trust statistics. My understanding is that any body fluid contact can transmit something (be it kissing or whatever), so I dont know why people seem to think theyre good to go as long as they use a condom...
Basically I understand that if Im having relations with people there is some risk involved. But rather than relying on numbers alone, I wouldnt mind being able to visually diagnose potential warning signs, and know what the odds are per demographic, per activity, and basically every trick to further minimize an already minimal but unacceptable risk... For example, they werent about to tell us in grade 6 to wash our junk off after having sex... stuff like that.
posted by GleepGlop to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)

know what the odds are per demographic, per activity

This doesn't really do you any good if your partner is a white straight wealthy woman who doesn't do drugs and who had few previous partners and yet... is still HIV+. This is why racial profiling doesn't work. On average, if you slept with only those people who fit the "lowest risk" category, your risk would be lower, but you (presumably) are not sleeping with a large enough sample size for it to matter.

Which is why using condoms is the best way to reduce your chances of contracting most sexually transmitted infections.
posted by occhiblu at 10:52 AM on July 25, 2006

This doesn't really do you any good

statistics on neighborhood crime aren't going to do you any good if you get shot while you're rolling through the rich parts of suburbia, either. looking beyond the fact that race and class are taboo subjects to invoke statistics on, we are just talking about statistics here.
posted by soma lkzx at 11:02 AM on July 25, 2006

Arming yourself with knowledge and condoms will take you a lot further than arming yourself with statistics. Planned Parenthood is a good place to start on the info side.
posted by j-dawg at 11:29 AM on July 25, 2006

you say you don't trust statistics, yet you want to know what the odds are per demographic, per activity,, which is statistics.

The only way to negate all risk is to not have sex, or any other human contact. Have SAFE sex, pay attention to your body and when things don't seem right check with a doctor. And yeah Planned Parenthood is a great resource.
posted by edgeways at 11:36 AM on July 25, 2006

I know a lot of people who love The Guide to Getting It On. Check it out.
posted by hermitosis at 11:42 AM on July 25, 2006

We are just talking about statistics here.

But we're not, we're talking about people you're dating. Is the poster planning on ruling out all black women from his potential dating pool simply because that population has the fastest growing number of HIV infections? Or, if he's gay, avoiding gay sex entirely? I don't see how demographics helps much here.

There's no way, other than testing, to know if your partner is HIV-positive. The virus does not contain itself to a certain race, class, or sexual orientation. It's all very well and good to say that a member of X group is more likely to be infected than a member of Y group, but restricting yourself to having sex with members of the Y group does not mean you're automatically safe, and thinking that way is likely to lead you into risky behavior. That's exactly how a number of people get AIDS -- "Oh, he looked clean, he couldn't be infected," "Oh, she'd only had two partners, she couldn't be infected," "Oh, we're not gay, we can't get AIDS."

Anal sex is risky, penis-in-vagina sex is less risky (and more risky for women than men), oral sex is the least risky of the three. Don't have sex with IV drug users, make sure all your partners are tested, and if you're this concertned about it, don't have sex with partners who test positive for anything, and always use condoms unless you're 100% positive on your partner's testing status.

Advocating testing and condoms is not a conspiracy designed to hide the "real" safe sex information from the American public (that would be abstinence-only education). It's a proven, reliable way of reducing your chances of contracting an STI.
posted by occhiblu at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2006

My understanding is that any body fluid contact can transmit something (be it kissing or whatever).

You can't get AIDS from kissing, FYI.
posted by radioamy at 12:27 PM on July 25, 2006

Response by poster: radio: yeah, i was thinking mono...
posted by GleepGlop at 12:36 PM on July 25, 2006

Gleepglop: I've had mono. Twice. It sucks, but believe me when I say that even just kissing is worth it. If you're going to worry about mono, you might as well take a vow of celibacy now.

That sounds snarky, but ... you've gotta take some risks, man.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 12:45 PM on July 25, 2006

You can get mono from a lot of things other than kissing, too. Better not accidentally drink out of someone else's cup at dinner! You're going to be able to pass on anything from the common cold to mono to meningitis just by being in close proximity. Learn to wash your hands, avoid people who are coughing and sneezing, and get enough rest. If you're worried about that sort of "body fluid contact" you're just as likely to get it from the food server accidentally sneezing too close to your hamburger.

Things you aren't likely to have heard about? People gossip. If someone has herpes and isn't up front about it, it's likely that someone in the group of friends will know and might leak it if coerced. If you're really going to jump in and look into the world of one-night stands, then you're in. That's it, you just have to put up with your best judgement. If you can't look someone in the eye and believe, with good reason to, that they are honest about their sexual dealings and history, then you're taking that chance. And in all honesty, if you're careful, it's unlikely you'll get a STD. But the possibility is there.

No one thinks they're "good to go" unless they're stupid. People think that they're taking chances that they feel perfectly willing to take, given a reasonable precaution. If you go to Planned Parenthood, or the library, or any other resource on STDs, you'll get the correct information on how viruses and bacterial infections are transferred. They won't be able to tell you who has them, just the warning signs.

If you really want to know how likely it is you'll catch something from "this girl" as your title says, it's a game of risk. Is she willing to go home with you when you first meet her? Maybe she's done this before with less reputable characters. Is she nonchalant about using condoms? Does she have them on hand? Do you know three other guys, including the one with the funny sore on his lip down the hall, who have disappeared into her room for a few hours at a time? Stuff to consider.
posted by mikeh at 1:45 PM on July 25, 2006

GleeGlop, I say this in the nicest possible way: you're bordering on the irrational here.

Firstly: the best thing is to talk to your partner. They're the best source you have. If you trust them and have a good relationship, that will tell you all you need to know. If you don't trust them, or don't have a good relationship, you can't sleep with them if you are this paranoid. If you meet that hottie at the bar, and go home with her on the first night, barely knowing here name, you just have to take your chances, or not do it.

Secondly: the best way to be safe is to use a condom, and at the end of the day I suspect the advice can't get any better than that.

Lastly, if you don't trust statistics (which is a rather inane thing to say), you can't use statistics, which is partly what your asking for help on (demographics, odds, etc). The best thing to do is not use statistics. You do that by the good old fashioned talking to your partner thing. Other than that, I suppose you could try to bone up on the symptoms of STDs, and look for them, but this is going to be a) hard (you're not a doctor, and many things won't be diagnosable at all with out a medical work up), and b) might quite possibly scare away your dates. I suppose that you might be able to find information on the demographics and frequency of STDs in whatever populations. It's probably going to require a lot of legwork on your part, and I doubt it will get you anything nearly as solid as the 99 to 1 chance of the condom doing its job.

Human beings are full of diseases. If you don't want to give each person you date a full physical (good luck), and you don't want to trust statistics, your choice is stark: be celibate.

In reality, using a condom in the beginning and talking frankly with your partner about STDs is all you can do if you want to have a healthy sex life. People can, and will, lie to you, and all the studying in the world is never going eliminate the risk. You have to learn to be comfortable with it, or be very committed and long term in your relationships (in which case all of these problems go away. I'm married -- my wife and I have absolutely no problem talking about this stuff: we did, before we had sex. It's the only way to make the chance of an STD essentially zero.)

(Also, understand that, fundamentally, you can not predict what is going to happen in any one sample with statistics. Even if the odds are 1 in 10^1000000 against infection, you still might get AIDS and die from that one encounter. If the odds are 99 to 1 that you will get infected, you still might walk away clean. All the statistical tools is the world can't take away that doubt you seem to be having).

Having said all this, let me finish by saying I'm confused by the nature of your question. If you are looking to meet the right person and have a long, committed relationship, then stop worrying. You can't have that without trust, and if you have trust, all you need to know about your partner's health will come directly from their mouth. Or are you looking to have lots of hook-ups and one-night-stands? If that's the case, you either have to accept the risk of an STD, or not do that. I don't really think you can do anything more than the condom.
posted by teece at 6:53 PM on July 25, 2006

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