Safe sex is crucial

By By Doug Jennings and By Doug Jennings

By Doug Jennings

U researchers have developed a new weapon in the global fight against HIV/AIDS: the “molecular condom.” Regardless of how innovative and slightly reminiscent of “Star Trek” it might sound, the molecular condom is specifically targeted toward women in impoverished countries to decrease out-of-control HIV infection rates.

Researchers explained how the device functions in a press release: “Before sex, women would insert a vaginal gel that turns semisolid in the presence of semen, trapping AIDS virus particles in a microscopic mesh so they can’t infect vaginal cells.” Unique in its class, the molecular condom reminds us that staying safe is a priority regardless of what technology is available.

Although it is certainly no one’s business what a person does in his or her bedroom or with whom, it is the business of the public health to make sure that whatever people do, they do it safely. The Salt Lake Valley Health Department estimates that 1,000 people are infected with HIV in Salt Lake County and don’t know it, and rates have climbed in the past three years. Gonorrhea, chlamydia and HPV are rampant in the area8212;problems that serve as blatant reminders of why it is absolutely crucial to practice safe sex, especially with anonymous partners.

Although a select few might argue that unmarried individuals, especially students, should abstain from sexual practice until they are hitched, let’s remember that some of us don’t have the legal option of marriage with the partner of our choosing. For those who wish to have sex, the important thing is to act responsibly. The truth of the matter is that we are all human beings, and we each have a sex drive. We are entitled to the knowledge of not only how our bodies work sexually, but also how to protect them.

So what does a responsible individual do to stay protected? If you’re having insertive sex, wear a condom. Wear a diaphragm. Wear a molecular condom. Oral sex? Use a dental dam or a plastic barrier. Even if you’re allergic to certain materials, alternatives are available. Limit your number of partners. Get tested every three to six months. Know your status. There are a variety of options available to stay safe at your local Planned Parenthood clinic on 654 S. 900 East. It doesn’t require highly advanced molecular technology to make a commitment to your own sexual health8212;it’s as simple as respecting yourself and respecting your body.

Don’t set it and forget it.

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Doug Jennings is a sophomore in anthropology