Students should practice safe sex

Scientists in Boston recently developed a vaccine they hoped would prevent the spread of AIDS. However, after three monkeys given the vaccine died, the results weren’t looking very promising. Because the vaccine won’t be reaching doctor’s offices soon, it is everyone’s individual responsibility to protect themselves from contracting the deadly virus.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 45,000 people in the United States became infected with AIDS in 2002, and the National Institute of Health reports that more than half of those newly affected are younger than 25. The NIH also reports that AIDS is the fifth-leading cause of death among people 25 to 44.

This is disturbing, because AIDS is largely preventable through practicing safe sex. Also, most people receive sex education from a very young age. Public schools begin spouting statistics about the dangers of having sex as early as elementary school, according to the Department of Education.

USF gives away free condoms at Student Health Services, so there is no excuse for students to practice unsafe sex.

For high school students, practicing safe sex could be more difficult, especially since many young, sexually active teens may not feel comfortable discussing sex with their parents. While safe sex is taught in high schools, many schools don’t make condoms available to students. Without a private place to get condoms from, teens may decide to do without, putting themselves at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2001, Lissette Stanley, then senior class president at Blake High School, was demoted from her position and prevented from giving her commencement address at her graduation because she put condoms in the prom favor bags. She said she wanted the students to have protection, and, at the time, Mark Hart, spokesman for Hillsborough County Schools, said the district didn’t want to encourage sexual activity by distributing condoms. Instead, students who asked for them would be directed to an appropriate agency.

It may be hard for adults to understand, but some teenagers are having sex and, because they’re not practicing abstinence, only safe sex will prevent teens from contracting diseases.

When a deadly disease, such as AIDS, can be easily avoided, it only makes sense that people should take every precaution to avoid contracting it.