Friday, June 4, 2010

Holiday weekend

It was a holiday weekend but the aftermath maybe nothing to celebrate.

This was my thought as I spend an hour with a young woman who was only a couple of weeks into her college summer internship. She was from another city and had come to the emergency room with several symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. The worst of these symptoms were the ulcerations surrounding her vulva or the opening to the vagina.

"He seemed like a really nice guy." Maybe, but he must have had herpes because this young woman, who had not previously been sexually active, surely has it now.

"But I didn't see anything like this on him." I sat and explained to her how he could have been someone who sheds the virus asymptomatically. Occasionally these people don't even know they have herpes. It is also true that early in the course of an outbreak, before the blisters appear, virus is shed but there is no visible sign of a herpes infection.

Then we talked about oral sex. I am always amazed at how many young people do not even consider this sex at all. This woman did not. Regardless of whether she considers 'oral sex' sex, I explained to her that she could contract herpes from his lips and he could get it from hers. I also had to explain that I have seen gonorrhea of the throat and syphilitic chancers (the lesion of primary syphilis) in the mouth. Recently pathologist have been reporting human papilloma virus or HPV in biopsies of polyps in the mouth and throat.

A short time later, I overheard one of the nurses taking about how paranoid her 18 year old son is about sexually transmitted diseases. This is good. I wish someone had made this young woman paranoid. If so, perhaps she would have at least insisted that a condom be part of the celebration.
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reverendmother said...

This breaks my heart.

local MD said...

Mine too. I don't know how to make kids understand the dangers. It seems most of our culture makes sex seem so wonderful. From my perspective, it is like playing with a loaded gun.