In the past 16 hours, I've removed extensive perineal condylomas (laser ablation) from a 14 year old and removed a tubal ectopic pregnancy (laproscopic excision) from an 18 year old. Well, I "assisted" with the procedures... Ectopics occur in 2% of pregnancies, are fatal to the fetus and very dangerous to the mother. They must be removed ASAP - hence the call at 10:30 tonight. Genital warts are far more common. I think every human is infected with at least one of the more than 100 human papillomaviruses (HPV). Some of these viruses cause plantar warts, others are to blame for genital warts, yet others predispose women to cervical cancer. If you have an immune deficiency, the virus can turn you into a tree. HPV ranges from benign to deadly. (GUESS WHAT! There's a vaccine for the HPV's that most often lead to cervical cancer! If you're reading this, you're too old - you've already been exposed. But your 10 year-old-daughters haven't. Give them Gardasil. They'll thank you...)
But this gets me back to the point of this entry. Teenagers are having sex. Remember back in the '90's? There was lots of talk about safe sex, safer sex, harm reduction, and a catchy little phrase, "safe, legal and rare." What was the outcome of such openness? Some say there was hypersexualization of pop culture. Wait a minute... Wasn't it an earlier generation that subscribed to free love? Hmmm... It turns out that a concerted campaign to educate teens of the risks of sex and ways to make it safer ACTUALLY reduced the amount of sex teenagers had. Whoa...
Any scientist who's tried to publish the results from a new knockout mouse knows that showing an effect of the intervention is not enough. You need to also show the 'rescue.' Basically, turn the mouse back to the way it was before the change and see if the outcome reverts. Well, whadaya know? The last 8 years HAVE BEEN JUST THAT! Abstinence only, no talk of condoms, no pregnancy preparation no nothing with public money have all combined to flip the culture from the previous decade. That decline in age of first intercourse and encounter frequency stops. It's been in a holding pattern. Well, at least kids aren't having more sex... yet... Teen pregnancy is up this year (first time in 15 years!) and 1 in 4 teenage girls have an STD.
It doesn't take the chairman of the department of population and family health at Columbia University to point out that "abstinence education spends a good amount of time bashing condoms. So it's not surprising, if that's the message young people are getting, that we're seeing condom use start to decrease." But John Santelli went ahead and stated the obvious in a Washington Post article that got me all riled up after a day of medical treatment of the effects of teen sexuality. Sure, comprehensive sex ed will be blamed. (Hey, Jimmy! we sure learned some swell things in school today - you want to do some homework later?) Oh, and don't forget about R-rated movies. And the internet. And hormones. And those perverts at Planned Parenthood.
Humans cannot divide asexually. If we don't talk about the consequences of our species' tendency to rely on genetic recombination, someone else will. It will be your kids' doctors, delivering their babies or treating them for gonorrhea, HPV or worse.
"Just say no!" didn't work for drugs. It looks like it doesn't work for sex, either.