DO YOU HAVE SEX? YOU MIGHT WANT TO BE CONCERNED.

At the end of 2015 the Center for Disease Control reported that the rates of syphilis, chlamydia , and gonorrhea were at an all time high. Congenital syphilis (in which a pregnant woman transmits the disease to her baby) had a 6% increase between 2014 and 2015. 2/3 of the people diagnosed with chlamydia were teenagers and young adults from 15-24. 40% of the reported gonorrhea cases were from the same group. The super scary part? The bacteria that causes gonorrhea is becoming resistant to antibiotics. Even worse than rising STD rates and the threat of a super gonorrhea? America has one of the highest infant mortality rates among developed countries. The number of babies that died before age one totaled around 23,000 in 2014 alone. All of these statistics were during the Obama administration, when healthcare and reproductive resources were at least minimal priorities. What can we expect the state of our collective sexual health to be like during Trump America? Will you be more likely to catch something that makes your penis ooze pus after a random hookup? Will you hear about more of your teenage family members or family friends becoming mothers or fathers? Will it be nearly impossible to check the health of your growing baby without health insurance? It’s not looking good for any of these questions.

As republicans seek to defund planned parenthood, numerous state health programs and STD clinics have faced cutbacks. These initiatives and budget cuts will only gain momentum during Trump’s presidency. He has assembled a rag tag cabinet of crusty conservatives who have it out for both women’s health and comprehensive sex education. Though some people will try to convince you that this doesn’t mean anyone should worry, the proof is in the pudding darling. Conservatives are attacking our sexual health.

According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of The United States, “Over the past 25 years, Congress has spent over $1.5 billion on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, yet no study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found these programs to be broadly effective.” Additionally, several states with abstinence only education programs rank highest in teen pregnancy and STD rates. For example, Mississippi not only doesn’t require sex education, but any schools with sex education courses must employ pro-abstinence curriculum only. Because abstinence only education doesn’t rid teenagers of their raging hormones, those same teens are more likely to engage in risky sex. As a result, Mississippi bounces between 1st and 4th place for most teen pregnancies and highest STD rates every year. (Sidenote: Mississippi also battles with Louisiana and Alabama for highest infant mortality rate.)

The links between abstinence only sex educations and teen pregnancy is made even clearer when examining Kansas. Their teen pregnancy rate declined when many counties traded in abstinence-only malarkey for more comprehensive sex educations under the Obama administration. I’m not optimistic about the chances of comprehensive sex education becoming a priority in Trump America. Even in Obama’s administration, less than 50% of America’s high schools met the CDC’s standards for comprehensive sex education. Trump has made it clear that facts don’t matter to him or his followers, so why would sex education be any different? He did name Katy Talento to his domestic policy council, a woman who claimed birth control causes miscarriages. Don’t even get me started on the secretary of Health and Human services, Tom Price. In 2005 he co-sponsored a bill that defined human life as beginning at conception, to render birth control pills and Planned B pills into murder weapons in the eyes of the law. These anti-abortion and anti-birth control attitudes have made an unfortunate target out of Planned Parenthood, who provided millions of STD tests and hundreds of thousands of cancer screenings for a largely low income clientele last year. They also provided hundreds of thousands of prenatal services, also mainly for low income women. Planned Parenthood is often the only option for people who aren’t wealthy, who aren’t on health insurance, or who aren’t being serviced by the dwindling amount of free health clinics. Both Tom and Katy are like Mike Pence, who believes in defunding Planned Parenthood.

Speaking of the former Indiana governor who signed a law requiring funerals for aborted fetuses, Trump’s vice president presided over the worst HIV outbreak in Indiana history. As congressman in 2011 he presented a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, which passed. By 2013 when Pence was governor, the one Planned Parenthood in Scott County closed. It was the only HIV testing center available in the county. Later in 2015 when 20 new cases of HIV were being discovered per week, health officials made the connection between dirty needles and the virus. It took Pence four months of refusal (while people contracted and shared the virus both sexually and with needles) before begrudgingly allowing temporary needle exchanges for addicts…. but by then hundreds of people had been reported to have it. This echoes one of the greatest follies of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, in which the HIV epidemic was exacerbated by neglect. HIV was considered God’s punishment for the gays, but the assessment was clearly wrong. Thousands, and later millions, of people went on to contract a virus that they were ignorant of because of Reagan’s neglect. One of my biggest headaches regarding HIV? In 2017 I still hear ignorant chatter online and in person about HIV being a “gay disease” (its a virus, btw), usually by teenagers or reckless religious zealots. This is why comprehensive sex education matters- for teenagers and adults. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone my age repeat sexual myths that I haven’t believed since high school.

The wars waged against comprehensive sex educations and Planned Parenthood are not responsible endeavors because they put too many Americans at risk. When you couple Trump’s dismissive attitude of peer reviewed science and the looming murder of Obamacare with the determination of conservatives to bring Christian values into legislation, things aren’t looking good for your genitals. This is a secular nation. We need to stop bringing morals to a gun fight. Unfortunately this warning (and the warnings of people far more qualified than I am) won’t stop conservatives from pushing their dangerous agenda. It will not stop them from seeking to destroy planned parenthood or swindle women into motherhood via Crisis Pregnancy Centers. It has always been crucial to be knowledgeable about your own body and the risks of sex, but now it is more pertinent than ever. Take charge and resist in Trump America. The Trump America that wants to return to a time where everyone’s reproductive and sexual rights were largely in the hands of old white men.

As an adult, you need to….

  1. Go get tested ASAP if you haven’t been in the past three months. Don’t rely on a monogamous partners clean bill of health to count as your test, either. Why? Because they could cheat on you, dummy. Also, some types of STD can lay dormant and asymptomatic in your partner and can still be transmitted to you.
  2. Remember that not all STD’s show symptoms
  3. Require new partners to show their clean bill of health BEFORE engaging in sexual activity. This one can be a real pain, but you’ll thank me later. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY.
  4. Talk to your doctor about birth control while it is still legal and {relatively}easy to get. This is especially prudent if you are covered under the ACA. Take advantage of it before it gets repealed.
  5. Not have sex with Trump supporters. Im only kind of half joking. If they’re not smart enough to see through Donald Trump’s bullshit, why would they be smart enough to take care of their own sexual health?
  6. Vow to give your own children comprehensive sex educations that they probably aren’t getting in school. You, like your own parents and everybody else’s parents, must come to terms that the chances are high that your hormonal teenager will engage in sexual activity. Don’t you want them to be safe rather than sorry?
  7. Find out if your state requires comprehensive sex education. If it doesn’t, write to your local congressperson demanding it.
  8. Keep in mind the quick facts about the following STD’s and STI’s:
    1.  HPV is the most common STD. If you are a woman without gardasil, get that now because it protects against the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
    2. Chlamydia symptoms are more likely to appear in women than men. If left untreated, it can damage a woman’s reproductive system.
    3. Syphilis often goes without symptoms and is rising rapidly in occurrence among men who have sex with men. It is important for every pregnant woman to be tested for syphilis, because it can be passed to her baby.
    4. Trichomoniasis is a bacterial infection that causes itching ad gross discharge, though 70% of people don’t show any symptoms at all.
    5. Herpes is not always prevented by condoms because it is transmitted from skin to skin contact. And yes…. you CAN get herpes from oral sex.
    6. HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretion, and breast milk but not by saliva.
    7. Gonorrhea symptoms are more likely to appear in men.

Further Reading + Viewing

Safer Sex (Video)

Infant Mortality Rates (CDC)

Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S

The States With the Highest Teenage Birth Rates Have One Thing in Common

How Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Is Driving Up STD Rates

A new war on birth control: Trump’s victory has empowered the sex scolds

Watch this video… NOW!