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What do you think about making HIV testing manditory and about HIV education??
Jan 13, 2006

Hey Dr. Bob,

Im a college student who had a recent scare. After this scare, ive been thinking alot about HIV education. Growing up, i never remember learning about any of the signs of HIV, yet only learned "not to have sex without a condom." I was thinking that HIV education should be manditory for highschool and college students. Many people go years without realizing they may have HIV, and dont understand the signs behind the infection. I figure with knowledge about the symptoms, people will be more aware of the nessacity to get tested after unprotected sex. I was wondering what you think about hiv education, and if you believe it should be taught in school? I understand it may cause more people to get WW, but isnt that better than having HIV spread? I also would have loved to known about PCR (I believe thats the name) after my incident, and i would have prefered that to going through hell for months. Also, i was wondering what you think about making HIV testing manditory, for everyone. I know its a touchy subject, but i bet if people knew they had HIV, they would be safe about their sexual experiences, and it could reduce the spread of the virus. I understand its a persons right to keep their medical history to themshelves, but doesnt a person in risk of exposure have the right to a healthy life? In my previous exposure, i chose to wear a condom, and the girl promised she didnt have any STD's, and removed the condom from my penis. She told me "live a little".... well, i contracted 2 std's... and all i can think of now is animosity towards her, and how she could have ruined my life.... mabye thats why i feel like testing should be manditory. Anyways, i was wondering what your opinion was, and if theres any laws preventing manditory testing. Sorry if this question was already asked. Thanks, and take care

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

At least growing up you were taught "don't have sex without a condom." Most kids today are merely being told, "Don't have sex," and what's left off is the all-important phrase "without a condom!"

You bring up many issues. Discussing all of them in depth is beyond the scope of this forum and would lead to a very lengthy response. Consequently I'll just hit the high points:

1. Yes, I believe sex education, including STD prevention, should be widely available in schools. This would include HIV education.

2. The symptoms of HIV can be quite variable. In fact, symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting HIV seropositivity. (Just breeze through the archives for a gazillion examples.) What we need to teach is HIV risk. The reason someone should be HIV tested is that they placed themselves at risk, not that they have symptoms.

3. Sex education, including HIV education, does not lead to more WWs. In fact, just the opposite is true!

4. PCR testing is not recommended for routing HIV screening, due to the rate of potential false-positive test results and cost.

5. Mandatory HIV testing for everyone is unfortunately not the answer. It is not a cost-effective use of health care dollars. There are many other issues as well. For instance, a single negative "mandatory" test doesn't necessarily mean the tested person will remain negative between the time of the test and when you decide to go commando for a mattress mambo.

6. It's worth noting that if you had contracted HIV form the episode you described, your partner would not have been the only person responsible for ruining your life. You were taught "not to have sex without a condom," remember? We all must take responsibility for protecting our health. It takes two to tango including the unsafe horizontal tango!

As for HIV/AIDS awareness and education, it remains one of the primary missions of my foundation The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation. In fact, Steve (Dr. Steve, the expert in The Body's Tratamientos Forum) and I will be at Oberlin College in a few weeks to give a presentation entitled "Life. Love. Sex. AIDS. And other unscheduled events. A Personal View of HIV/AIDS from both sides of the examination table." Concurrently, my foundation is sponsoring a viewing of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on campus and presenting an AIDS awareness concert at Oberlin's Conservatory of Music.

On the off chance you're an Oberlin student, you are welcome to attend. If not, why not arrange for some HIV education on your campus?

Get involved. Get informed. Stay safe.

Dr. Bob



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