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Prevention of STDs and why people don't care

Mar 26, 1998

Seems to me that alot of time and money is spent on AIDS and STD research. I know of well-educated people who still ignore all risk factors and practice unsafe sex. Can you help me understand why they ignore preventive measures? These are people that do know about AIDS and HIV and still ignore the risks.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. There are numerous reasons why a person may not practice safer sex, even if they are knowledgeable about HIV/STDs. Some of those reasons include:

1) Denial. Many people refuse to believe that they are at risk for HIV/STDs.

2) Alcohol/Drug use. If a person is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, their judgement can be significantly impaired. They may put themselves at risk, while under the influence of these drugs.

3) Love/Intimacy. Some people believe that condoms "get in the way" of expressing love and intimacy.

4) Apathy. Some people simply do not care about getting HIV and other STDs.

5) Pressure. Some people are pressured to have unprotected sex, even when they really do not want to have unprotected sex (this can include issues such as rape).

6) Cost. Some people simply cannot afford to buy condoms and lubricants.

7) Embarrassment. Some people are too embarrassed to buy condoms.

8) Hormones. Many people say that once they "get into the mood", they forget to put a condom on, or that stopping to put a condom on, takes them "out of the mood". Many people simply do not want to bother using condoms.

9) Fear of rejection. Some people are too scared to use condoms (or ask their partner to use condoms) for fear that their partner will "reject them" if the partner thinks they may have HIV or another STD.

10) Being unaware of ones risk. Some people may THINK that their partner is at low risk for HIV/STDs, when in fact, they are not. For example, a person may not realize that their partner is presently (or previously) at high risk for HIV/STDs (sexual practices, drug use, etc.).

11) Religious/Cultural practices. The use of condoms may not be acceptable in certain religious and cultural groups.

12) Gender roles. In some cultures, it may not be acceptable for a woman to ask a man to use a condom.

13) Sensitivity. Some people say that condoms reduce sensitivity, and the man loses his erection as a result.

14) Problems with latex. Some people are allergic to latex. Others do not like the smell or feel of latex. However, in situations such as these, there are alternatives to latex condoms (for example, using condoms made out of polyurethane).

As you can see, there are numerous barriers to condom use, and practicing safer sex. Just learning about HIV and other STDs is not enough. Safer sex involves not only education, but behavioral changes as well. All the education in the world will not do any good, if a person does not change their behavior.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

What type of risk?
Condom Sizes

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