Facing the consequences of sex

Over Thanksgiving break, I visited family and caught up with friends. It was nice to see everyone again and to listen to what everybody had been up to over the past couple months. Although you tend to lose touch with many people when everyone disperses to college, there are a select few, the ones who got you through high school, who remain close to you.

I have one friend who epitomizes this kind of friendship. She was my leaning post and although we had both gone our separate ways, neither of us hesitate to call one another for confidence just as we have always done.

One night while I was home, my friend and I were drinking coffee and reminiscing. There was plenty of laughter and smiles but suddenly, things became serious.

“I have something to tell you,” she said. “You can’t tell anyone, but I have had this secret for a few weeks now and I really need to get it out.”

A million feelings went through my body. I was uncomfortable, worried and scared, and all I could mutter was “OK.”

She then proceeded to tell me that she had a check up at the gynecologist a few weeks ago and while she was there, the doctor suggested testing her for sexually transmitted diseases (STD), just to be safe. Although she assumed everything was fine, she received a phone call a few days later revealing bad news: she had tested positive for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that puts you at a high risk for cervical cancer.

I was shocked to say the least, and very confused. She went on to explain the situation.

HPV is the most common STD. Symptoms include warts and some sort of irritation in the genital area. Like my friend, most people who have HPV are unaware of it and although it is not visible, it is still spreadable. Besides the risk of developing cervical cancer, there is also the possibility of passing it on to children during pregnancy. HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact and therefore is not completely preventable through the use of condoms.

My friend went on to explain the way she felt the moment she found out: dirty. She had not had sex with many guys. Those she had sex with were all serious boyfriends and she used protection most of the time.

In that moment, I was force fed a large dose of reality and I began to choke. I have heard about STDs a million times before. I have sat through and listened to speakers during the assemblies back in high school, and yet I still carried out my everyday life without thinking it could ever happen to me or anyone close to me.

In that moment I grew up a lot. The world holds threats and consequences that we prefer to overlook, but we can’t do that. If Never-Never-Land was a real place I would fly there in a second, but unfortunately we live in a place called the “real world.” Therefore we must learn to accept the dangers that come with reality.

We know the ways to prevent transmitting STDs: condoms, abstinence, etc. However, we still have those childish moments when the “pull and pray” method either feels the best or is the most convenient. We are no longer those carefree kids we were in what seems like just yesterday and although I am reluctant to say it, we need to be aware of the threats out there and grow up. The risks are real; we need to ensure the protection is real too.

– Contributed by a News Correspondent

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