Monthly Archives: December 2016

Fearful of parents, many teens still avoid sex-related health care

Fearful of parents, many teens still avoid sex-related health care


Nearly one in five U.S. teens between the ages of 15 and 17 are not seeking out sexual or reproductive health care because they’re afraid their parents will find out, according to a data analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics.


“This research really falls in line with a lot of other research that a lot of other reproductive health organizations have done,” said Casey Copen, one of the study’s authors. “So it’s not surprising, but it does make the statistics more current.”

Under California law, teenagers can get reproductive care and treatment for sexual issues confidentially, without parental consent or notification.

The Center for Health Statistics studied 2013-2015 data compiled by the National Survey of Family Growth. It found that nearly 18 percent of youths between 15 and 17 won’t go to a provider at all because of confidentiality concerns.

Celinda Vasquez of Planned Parenthood L.A. said this is why her organization has changed its sex education curriculum into one that has what she calls a “rights-based framework.”

“It goes above and beyond the birds and the bees,” Vasquez said. “It’s really about advocating for their own healthcare needs … and fostering a dialogue about gender roles, healthy relationships and media stereotypes.”

Additionally, Planned Parenthood L.A. now has sexual education programs for adolescents and parents.

The survey also found that teenagers who spend time alone with a health care provider are significantly more likely to receive contraceptive care and treatment for sexual diseases than those who don’t.

Privacy concerns keep young people from sexual health services

Privacy concerns keep young people from sexual health services


By Karen Pallarito, HealthDay News

Teen girl has her pulse taken by a caring female doctor.  Isolated.

Young people may abstain from seeking sexual and reproductive health care because they fear their parents will find out, a U.S. government report suggests.

About 7 percent of teens and young adults said they would not seek that care due to confidentiality concerns, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported Friday.

he youngest teens expressed the greatest reluctance. Almost one in five 15- to 17-year-olds said they would not seek that care because their parents could find out, according to the report.

“It is concerning,” said Casey Copen, an NCHS health scientist and lead author of the report. The NCHS is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC estimates that 15- to 24-year-olds account for half of all cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.

“It’s important that we monitor any barriers that youth may experience to obtaining health care,” Copen said.

The report provides data from two new measures of confidentiality included in a nationally representative household survey involving face-to-face interviews.

Copen said these questions were added to get a sense of young people’s confidentiality concerns and any barriers to sexual and reproductive health care.

The survey revealed that young women with confidentiality concerns were less likely to receive sexual and reproductive health services in the past year compared to those without such concerns. Among females aged 18 to 25, for example, 53 percent with concerns received these services, compared with nearly 73 percent of those without such worries.

Among males, there were no large differences in the percentages receiving sexual and reproductive services based on confidentiality concerns.

Abigail English is director of the Center for Adolescent Health & the Law in Chapel Hill, N.C. She said the new report is “extremely important and useful” because it confirms findings from older and smaller studies and provides new data.

Concerns about young people’s health privacy and confidentiality have been around for decades, English explained.

Every state has a law allowing minors to consent to some range of health services, most commonly diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, she said. Most states also allow minors to consent to contraception services, she added.

The federal HIPAA law — short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — safeguards a patient’s medical information and also provides some confidentiality protection for minors, English said.

For example, when a teenager goes for her annual physician visit, the doctor may explain that it’s appropriate to have some time to talk privately and ask mom if she’d mind stepping out to the waiting room.

“That is recognized under the HIPAA privacy rule as having some significance, and affording, then, the young person some protection for those discussions,” English said.

Most health professional organizations already have guidelines on appropriate communications with young patients, Copen said.

Michael Resnick, immediate past president of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, said confidentiality is the “keystone of effective communication between provider and patient.”

Doctors and other health providers also have a role to play in improving communication between parents and their adolescent children, said Resnick, chair of adolescent health and development at the University of Minnesota.

Still, only 38 percent of teens spent some time alone — without a parent or guardian — during a visit with a doctor or other health care provider in the past year, according to the new report.

With limited time during an office visit, it could be that the topic “gets short shrift,” English said. Or, it could be that parents are reluctant to leave the room, physicians are uncomfortable asking them to leave, or teens want a parent to stay, she added.

But having that one-on-one time seems to make a difference, the survey suggested.

Teens aged 15 to 17 who spent some time alone with a doctor were more likely to receive sexual or reproductive health services in the past year, compared to those who lacked the opportunity for a private discussion.

“It’s important for young people to know that they can consent for certain services on their own and not be afraid to seek services in a confidential way,” English said.

More information

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine has information on sexual and reproductive health for teens and young adults.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Masturbation, penis size, rough sex: What Indians ask doctors online since no one will tell them at home

Masturbation, penis size, rough sex: What Indians ask doctors online since no one will tell them at home


Even before Saurabh Arora got his online healthcare platform off the ground, the former Facebook data scientist had an inkling of what Indians might want to ask doctors—especially if they could send questions via a smartphone app and in complete privacy.


The low-hanging fruits, as Arora described them, were mental health, women’s health, and well-being of children. But the subject that would probably provoke most curiosity, Arora felt, was sexual health.

Arora’s instincts were not off the mark. Two years after the launch of Lybrate, an online doctor database that connects physicians to patients through a mobile app, user data from the platform shows that an overwhelming number of Indians have many, many questions about sex.

Lybrate allows users to post general health queries, consult doctors in real time, search for doctors in the neighbourhood, and book appointments online. Users can choose to remain anonymous for online interactions.

Lybrate, of course, is not entirely representative of India’s patient population. But with an enrolled base of 100,000 doctors who interact with a daily patient load of 200,000 individuals, according to the company’s estimates, the user data still provides a significant insight into what health issues Indians are concerned about.

“I’m sure these discussions are not new,” Arora said, referring to the overwhelming interest in sexual health among Lybrate’s users. “Particularly in metros, the need has been there, and it has been circulating in private groups, one-to-one phone conversations, and things like that.”

Conversations around sex are still largely taboo in India. Sex education is not part of the curriculum in most schools. Few parents will openly talk about it and even doctors can be hesitant to ask patients about their sexual habits.

On the other hand, the environment that many young, smartphone-wielding Indians grow up in involves a liberal dose of pornography. Indians—and not just the men—are among the world’s most prolific consumers of online porn, with a special liking for smut involving “Indian bhabhi,” “Indian wife,” and “Indian aunty.” Obviously, all of this happens behind closed doors with little room elsewhere for serious discussion about sex.

So, in a country where over 40% of the population is under 20 years of age, people seem to be taking the discussion online. And platforms like Lybrate, which allows individuals to consult doctors without necessarily surrendering their privacy, provide a window into that exchange.

Lybrate’s data shows that across tier I, tier II, and tier III cities, the most common questions are on erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, menopause, and low libido.

The absence of an open conversation about sex and sexuality in India is an overwhelming concern for sex educators like Anju Kishinchandani who focuses on educating school-going children in Mumbai. For the lack of better options, children are turning to the internet for answers and there, pornography is often the first thing they find.

The recent smartphone boom in India, the world’s second largest smartphone market where 77% of users aged between 15 and 24 years surf the internet every day, has made matters worse.

“It’s very, very scary,” said Kishinchandani, “If they (children) are learning about sex and sexuality mostly through porn films, then they’re getting a very, very warped view because what they’re seeing there is not reality.”

The extent of misinformation can be frightening. Kishinchandani, for instance, recalls teenagers aged between the ages of 16 and 18 explaining how porn has shaped their assumptions about contraception.

“I’ve had children of that age group tell me ‘Why are you saying that we need to use contraception? Because when we watch porn films on our phones, those people don’t use contraception,’” she said.

Silence over sex

Meanwhile, parents are still unwilling or unable to broach the topic with their children. “Parents are still unfortunately clueless,” said Kishinchandani. “A lot of them want to talk to their kids but they don’t know how, so they don’t end up talking to them.”

The taboo is so overwhelming that even doctors sometimes hesitate to ask their patients about their sex lives. “They (doctors) say, ‘how can I ask? They (patients) might find the question irrelevant. They may think that I’m raising too personal a query’,” said Rajan Bhonsle, a sexologist. “This open dialogue between a parent and child, the teacher and student or a doctor and patient has to happen.”

The consequences of a lack of dialogue on sex can be serious.

“I meet people in their 40s and 50s and 60s, when they have avoided getting into relationships or getting married only out of some myths and misconceptions they carry about themselves, or about the sexual act,” explained Bhonsle, also a professor at the department of sexual medicine at Mumbai’s Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital.

Then, there is the possibility of individuals developing fetishes, paraphilias (abnormal sexual behaviour), and fixations related to sex, according to Bhonsle, only because they were not informed at the right time in the right manner.

The obvious risk of sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, is also aggravated by the silence around sex.

Stigma and crime

Suppression of an accessible discussion on sex in India may have an even more wide-ranging manifestation: the endless wave of sexual crimes against women.

“This kind of taboo around talking about sex means people don’t understand what sexual relationships are about,” said Paromita Vohra, founder and creative director at Agents of Ishq, an online sex education project. “Because when there is a silence on a subject, then all kinds of hierarchies continuously get played out. And all of the stigma also (gets) attached to things.”

Men in India, Vohra explained, often have no idea what women’s pleasure is, what women’s consent entails, and how to negotiate that consent. So when they are rejected, it sometimes translates into violent reactions, like acid attacks or other acts of aggression.

Also, among women, who usually do not have space to speak about their own sexual desires and comfort, there is little awareness. “When you don’t ever talk about what is a healthy sexual relationship or a healthy sexual interaction, how do you learn to recognise it?” Vohra asked. “How do you learn to say, ‘No, this is not OK for me?’”

In a country where 95% rape accused are family, friends, co-workers or persons known to the victim one way or the other, this lack of information about sex—and stifled discussion on the subject—can evidently be dangerous.

And that is why the conversation that platforms like Lybrate are provoking is important. It is a fact that Arora recognises, although he is also acutely aware of its limitations.

“Tools like ours are obviously a great help but we understand that we cannot fulfil everything,” he said. “We still believe that to truly solve the problem, more and more people should know (about the subject). But more and more people should become aware at an earlier stage.”


Devjyot Ghoshal

Most College Students Use Contraception Inconsistently — And Don’t Think They’re At Risk For Unplanned Pregnancy

Most College Students Use Contraception Inconsistently — And Don’t Think They’re At Risk For Unplanned Pregnancy

The second time I ever had sex, the condom broke. I was 16, turning 17 the next day, and I wasn’t on The Pill. I started panicking. While my high school boyfriend’s (very cool) parents tried to calm us down and comfort us, I knew I had to do something to make sure I wasn’t pregnant ASAP. I had friends who had been in similar situations and just crossed their fingers until their next period, hoping they wouldn’t get pregnant. But I couldn’t take that chance. I still had my bottom braces in, I thought, how could I possibly have a child right now? The next day, we went to Planned Parenthood during our lunch break and I took emergency contraception Plan B on my seventeenth birthday during study hall.

Back in 2004, Plan B wasn’t available over the counter and there was an age restriction. Had I not known about my options (or had access to a Planned Parenthood), I don’t know what would’ve happened, but I’m so thankful I did. But as a new survey found, too many people still don’t. The survey of 3,600 female and male undergraduate and graduate students in the United States, ages 18-25, from Teva Women’s Health, the makers of Plan B One-Step, and The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, found that 62 percent of sexually active college students are not using contraception consistently, and only 15 percent of students felt like they were at a high risk of an an unplanned pregnancy.

But a not-so-fun fact: In the U.S, 45 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended — and out of all the unintended pregnancies in the U.S., 41 percent are due to inconsistent use of contraception. So what’s up — why aren’t we taking advantage of effective birth control options? Is is laziness? Inaccessibility? Lack of comprehensive sex ed?

62% of college students surveyed incorrectly believed they have to be at least 18 years of age or older to purchase OTC EC.

“I was surprised to see nearly three out of five sexually active college students in the study reported using contraception inconsistently,” Justin Garcia, PhD, Associate Director for Research and Education with the Kinsey Institute. “It’s hard to say why exactly, as we didn’t specifically ask participants in the current study about their reasons for contraceptive use and non-use. But our study did find that college students surveyed held a considerable amount of misinformation about contraceptive-related issues, so it’s possible that knowledge gaps related to sexual and reproductive health contribute to these relatively high rates of inconsistent use. Other research has also pointed to a variety of factors, including socio-demographics, relationship factors, arousal, alcohol and other drug use, so those are all factors that we will need to further investigate in future research specifically on college students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices with contraception, including EC.”

So why do so few students think they’re at risk for pregnancy? Is it misinformation? The — totally false — “it can’t happen to me” attitude that people also have over contracting STIs? “Based on the scientific literature there are likely a variety of reasons related to individual knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, attitudes, and experiences,” Dr. Garcia says. “The data from the current survey isn’t able to tease that out, but it’s definitely one of the primary questions that could be addressed in future research.”


Major study: Sex-ed programs don’t reduce STI’s, teen pregnancy, HIV

Major study: Sex-ed programs don’t reduce STI’s, teen pregnancy, HIV

A new peer-reviewed study of multiple “sexual and reproductive health” educational programs in several countries finds no evidence of improved health outcomes in any program studied.

According to the authors of the study, “School-based interventions for preventing HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy in adolescents,” published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, “There is little evidence that educational curriculum-based programs alone are effective in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents.”

The study’s authors reviewed eight studies that examined sex-education programs in schools in Africa, Latin America and Europe with a total of 55,157 participants, and performed randomized controlled trials on their data. They found the programs had no measurable impact on the rate of sexually-transmitted diseases among participants or rates of pregnancy.

“In these trials, the educational programs evaluated had no demonstrable effect on the prevalence of HIV or other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections),” the authors write, noting that in addition to HIV infection they also looked at results regarding herpes and syphilis. “There was also no apparent effect on the number of young women who were pregnant at the end of the trial,” they add.

The authors note that many studies of adolescent sex-education programs measure the programs’ effectiveness by examining their “effects on knowledge or self-reported behavior” rather than “biological outcomes” such as the rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among program participants. In examining biological outcomes, the authors could find no benefit from such programs.

The findings of the study are consonant with other studies of “comprehensive” sex-education programs that show them to be ineffective or even counterproductive, particularly in comparison with abstinence-only programs.

A 2004 study conducted in the UK by the Family Education Trust, “Sex Education or Indoctrination,” examined teen pregnancy rates in different areas of the country to determine how they correlated with sex-education programs. It found that teenage pregnancy rates were highest in the areas that were most aggressive in promoting sex-ed.

A 2007 study conducted in the U.S. by the Institute for Research and Evaluation found that “comprehensive” sex-education programs had little impact on the behavior of teens during their education and no long-term effects whatsoever, noting “Of 50 rigorous studies spanning the past 15 years, only one of them reports an improvement in consistent condom use after a period of at least one year.”

The same study found that abstinence-based sex-education programs “can reduce teen sexual activity by as much as one half for periods of one to two years” at the conclusion of the programs.sex_education_1_810_500_55_s_c1

Here is how excessive porn is bad for you

Here is how excessive porn is bad for you


According to science, consistently watching porn can lead to erectile dysfunction, sorry to be bearer of the bad news.

We all know that this is probably true. This is one news I hoped that I wouldn’t write but the truth is watching porn can adversely affect your sexual health especially for the guy.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Dr. Andrew Smiler, a masculinity expert believes that men get erectile dysfunction after constantly beating one too many to porn. Your right hand or left hand whichever you prefer totally gets you and this might feel like the best and sometimes even feel better than sex, especially because you’re doing it to a porn, and those are might unrealistic, especially with how unrealistic they can be compared to the actual sex that you’re having.

“The guys I see, most of them are between 13 and 25. The vast majority are, for the most part, the picture of physical health,” he told The Independent, he insinuated that watching porn can lead to limp dick and depressed men according to Zeynep Yenisey, Maxim.

 Dr. Angela Gregory is a Psychosexual therapist had this to say “Men are becoming both physically and psychologically desensitized to normal sexual stimulation and arousal with a sexual partner.”

A lot of times, the false image of pornography can mislead a lot of guys. For example, you can be with the girl of your dreams, someone you’ve always wanted to be with and be unimpressed that she isn’t moaning like Mia Khalifa, so your dick game is low. One big disclaimer here, everyone doesn’t moan like a porn star and you can still have a great time.

Plus, the fact that porn stars usually look much different than everyone else apparently puts many men off too, because it “alters perceptions and expectations of who is attractive,” says Dr. Smiler.  Because of this, some men who watch a lot of porn get used to seeing fake boobs and bleached buttholes, too much of this might lead to my-girlfriend/wife-isn’t-this-sexy syndrome.

To be honest, this doesn’t affect everyone, some people are well aware of the situation and therefore the scenes aren’t taken to heart, they’re still not desensitized, and still horny as usual.

“It’s like an itch they can’t scratch and is always on their minds,” Dr. Gregory says. But this isn’t as bad as being desensitized to normal sex. In fact, it’s not really bad at all.

For some good news, Dr. Gregory says it’s very easy to get back to normal after falling into a porn-induced funk. All you need to do is stop jerking off, and you’ll be good as new!

“If you can stop [masturbating], you can reboot your system to normal arousal,” she says, suggesting refraining from porn and masturbation for 90 days.

Haha, no thanks.

So, that is it, if you feel your jerking off is under check and doesn’t affect your sexual health but if its affecting you, it might just be the time to stop and reset your sexual clock

H/T: The Independent

Research finds that older people’s sexual problems are being dismissed

Research finds that older people’s sexual problems are being dismissed

Research by The University of Manchester’s MICRA (Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing) and Manchester Metropolitan University highlighted the obstacles some older couples face in maintaining fulfilling sexual lives, and how they adapt to these barriers.


The study analysed written comments from over a thousand adults aged 50 to 90 who responded to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing Sexual Health and Relationships questionnaire. Respondents of both sexes emphasised their anxiety at not being taken seriously by health practitioners as they sought to overcome issues affecting their , such as a drop in sexual desire or physical difficulties. One man in his eighties reported being refused Viagra for erectile dysfunction on the grounds of cost.

Participants in the study, published in Ageing and Society, cited other elements influencing sexual activity, including health conditions and physical impairment, the evolving status of sex in relationships and mental wellbeing. It was also found that men were more likely to talk about the impact of on sexual activities, but women were more likely to talk about health-related sexual difficulties in the context of a relationship.

The study recommends that health care practice should positively engage with issues of sexual function and sexual activity to improve the health and wellbeing of , particularly in the context of long-term health problems.

“This research further improves our understanding of love and intimacy in later life”, said study co-author David Lee, Research Fellow from The University of Manchester. “It builds upon empirical findings published in our earlier paper (Sexual health and wellbeing among older men and women in England; Archives of Sexual Behaviour) which described a detailed picture of the sex lives of older men and women. However, this new research uses narrative data to better understand how changing age, health and relationships interrelate to impact sexual health and satisfaction.”

“Appreciating individual and personal perspectives around sexuality and sexual is of paramount importance if we are to improve services for older people.”

The contraception question: study shows how much men really know about female contraception

The contraception question: study shows how much men really know about female contraception


Show a man a female condom or an intrauterine device (IUD) and there’s a fairly good chance he’ll be stumped.


An IUD looks more like a wind-up toy than a device that effectively prevents pregnancy 99 per cent of the time, and a vaginal ring is reminiscent of an entirely separate sexual act best not mentioned in polite company.

But men are more enlightened on the subject of contraception than conventionally thought, Sydney researchers suggest.

There are, however, still big knowledge gaps when it comes to long acting reversible contraception (LARC), the most reliable and effective methods available to prevent pregnancy.

More than 80 per cent of men had heard of each available method of contraception, a survey of 2438 heterosexual men on the dating site RSVP found.

“There was really good awareness and also use of contraception among these men,” lead researcher Dr Mary Stewart at Family Planning NSW said.

But some of the more esoteric methods of female contraception still raised eyebrows, according to the research presented at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference in November.

Too many men still did not know enough about LARCs, including the implant, the injection and IUDs, Dr Stewart said.

One in 10 had never heard of an IUD, some 18 per cent had never come across a contraceptive injection, 14 per cent had not heard of an implant and 19 per cent had never heard of a vaginal ring.

One of the aims of the research was to understand why so few Australian women used long acting reversible contraception (LARC).

Roughly 4 to 8 per cent of Australian women report using LARC, compared with 10-32 per cent in Europe and 10 per cent in the US, previous research showed.

“There is just so little data on this … but we know men’s attitudes influence what method their partner chooses so it’s important men have got good knowledge around what’s available ,” Dr Stewart said.

Encouragingly, the study found that general perception that contraception is women’s business appeared to be crumbling, as men voice their desire to share the decision-making role when it comes to the kind of contraception used to prevent pregnancy.

Most men surveyed did not believe contraception was the woman’s job, with more than 90 per cent of men believing both the man and woman should decide which contraceptive method to use.

When it came to casual partners, roughly one in four believed it was a mutual decision, while just over half thought the same was true for a one-night stand.

“They showed they really did want to be involved in the discussion around the type of contraception used,” Dr Stewart said.

But misconceptions around the harms of some forms of contraception meant their decisions may not be based on accurate information.

Almost one in three believed emergency contraception – the morning after pill – might be harmful for women, which was indicative of a general misunderstanding among the public about how the pill actually works.

“People get a bit confused about what the emergency contraception pill does,” Dr Stewart,

Many people in the community think it functions in a similar way to an abortion pill, terminating a fetus.

“Men can access [the emergency contraception pill], but if they think it’s harmful it will affect their decision to go to the pharmacy and buy it for their partners,” Dr Stewart said.

Some 30 per cent of the men surveyed believed the contraceptive pill could be harmful. Some 20 per cent believed the injection could cause harm.

“There’s quite a lack of knowledge around the harms of most of the female methods, but a lot of confidence around male methods,” Dr Stewart said.

More than half of the men surveyed said male condoms reduced their interest in sex and more than three in four said they reduced their sexual pleasure.

The withdrawal method was a turn off for many, reducing interest in sex among 40 per cent and dudding pleasure among 57 per cent.

One in four said the morning after pill would make them less keen for sex and, among those who had used a female condom, the same proportion said it reduced their sexual pleasure.

“Many women talk about the effect of the pill on their libido, but it’s likely many men aren’t aware of this,” Dr Stewart said.

LARC contraception: How it works

Contraceptive implant – a small, flexible rod inserted under the skin of the inner upper arm that slowly releases a progestogen hormone to prevent ovulation for up to three years. (99.9 per cent effective).

Copper IUD – a small, plastic T-shaped device with copper wire wrapped around its stem. The IUD is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. Two types of copper IUDs are available in Australia; one lasts up to five years, the other lasts up to 10 years. (99 per cent effective).

Hormone-releasing IUD – The same T-shaped device releases the hormone levonorgestrel, which makes the mucus in the cervix thicker so that sperm cannot get into the uterus. It also affects the ability of the sperm and egg to move through the uterus and fallopian tubes, which reduces the chance of an egg being fertilised. (99 per cent effective).

Contraceptive Injection – DMPA, or Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate, is similar to the hormone progesterone, produced in the body by the ovaries. It stops the ovaries from releasing eggs, preventing ovulation. (94-99 per cent effective).

China’s lack of sex education is putting millions of young people at risk

China’s lack of sex education is putting millions of young people at risk


By James Griffiths, Nanlin Fang and Serenitie Wang, CNN

When Xiao Niao was in high school, her teacher gathered all the girls in her class and told them if they were raped they should take the morning after pill.

That was the limit of her formal sex education. For millions of young Chinese people, it’s more than they ever got.
As China marks World AIDS Day Thursday, the effects of that missing knowledge is more evident than ever, with growing numbers of HIV infections and staggeringly high abortion rates.

No protection

In 2015, there were 115,000 new HIV infections in China, according to China’s National Center for STD/AIDS Prevention and Control. Of those, 17,000, or 14.7%, were in the 15-24 age group.
While the overall figure is fairly low compared to China’s massive population, the year-on-year growth rate among young people is around 35%. As of September 2016, there have already been 13,000 new HIV infections within the 15-24 age group.
Some universities have even installed vending machines selling HIV home testing kits to students.
“Machines alone can’t solve the problem unless there’s follow-up education to help students,” said Xiong Binqi, vice president of the Beijing-based 21st Century Education Research Center.
Xiong praised Chinese universities for making “huge progress in sex education,” but warned that “there’s a lot to do.”
“Sex education faces great challenges in China,” said Jing Jun, a professor of sociology at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.
“At Tsinghua, students take sex education classes where they learn basic knowledge about sex safety, condom use, etc. As far as I know, this is the first time most of my students have ever taken such a class.”

Abortion as birth control

Some sex educators, frustrated at the lack of official action, are taking it on themselves to spread the message via apps and social media such as Buzz and Bloom and Yummy.
Launched last year, Buzz and Bloom (蜜丰兰花) provides sex education and health advice over messaging app WeChat.
Co-founder Stephany Zoo, 24, came up with the service after she visited an abortion clinic in Shanghai with a friend and discovered how unprepared for the procedure several of the young women in the waiting room were.
“So many of the girls were going in for abortions without having any idea what was going to happen,” she said.
For many young women, abortion is their primary form of birth control.
According to official statistics, more than 13 million abortions are performed in China every year, a figure experts say is a vast underestimation, as it does not include non-surgical abortions or those carried out in unlicensed clinics.
“Many women have abortions because they lack basic sex education, especially contraceptive education,” Yummy founder Zhao Jing said.
“They think having an abortion is like taking a nap, which is how it is described in adverts.”

Sex talk

Zoo and Zhao’s start-ups, along with a handful of other groups, are working to create spaces online and off where young Chinese people can discuss all things sex — something that can be an uphill struggle.
“Even talking about things like periods they would be immediately uncomfortable,” Zoo said. “There’s still this culture of shaming when it comes to sexual health and bodies.”
With nowhere else to turn, Zhao, 33, said young people often look for information and advice in the wrong places.
“Men learn from Japanese pornography. Women learn from having one night stands,” she said. “The attitude is like ‘ok, just try it,’ without contraception.”
Even some women who know better can be “too shy” to tell their partners to wear condoms, she said. “China still has the stereotype where men are the conqueror and women are submissive in sex.”
This can lead to pointless risks, Zoo said. “I had a girl tell us once that her boyfriend said if she held her breath during sex she couldn’t get pregnant.”

Limited action

While concerns over rising HIV infection rates have led to some official action, Zhao said that too often government interest spikes around high profile events like World AIDS Day on December 1, and doesn’t translate into long-term change.
Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, said that while HIV infection rates among college students have risen in recent years, it is still “not that high.”
“Many teenagers and students have not fully understood the gravity of AIDS, and take it for granted that it is irrelevant to them,” he said.
Tsinghua professor Jing said that young gay men are particularly at risk, as they face a double stigma.
“No effective measures have been taken by the Chinese government to curb the high HIV/AIDS contraction rates among homosexuals, despite being effective at tackling infection rates among prostitutes, blood-sellers and drug users,” he said.
This because the government often takes a hands off approach to LGBT organizations, even those engaged in public health initiatives, Jing said, leaving them without much-needed funding or support.
Zhao said educators are expanding from targeting young people to also working with parents to help them talk to their kids about sex and break the cycle of sex-ed silence.
Now 30, Xiao Niao has attempted to bridge the gap within her own family, with limited success. “I spoke to my brother about how he needs to wear condoms,” she said. “He immediately left the room.”
In Shanghai, Buzz and Bloom has begun holding offline events, combining the sharing of funny sex stories with open, no-holds-barred discussions of sexuality and sexual health.
“It’s about making sex fun and accessible and not something that’s being held on a pedestal,” Zoo said.
“If you think when you have sex your world is going to explode and change, obviously you’re never going to have great sex.”

Sex education: Push to expand classes to curb STDs

Sex education: Push to expand classes to curb STDs

Lauren Martyn-Jones, The Courier-Mail December 1, 2016 7:00pm

SEX education in schools could be expanded under a new five-year plan launched by the State Government.

The landmark blueprint, designed to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, stresses the importance of improving the education and support provided to young people.

“School-based education programs for children and young people are a critical starting point for promoting positive sexual health outcomes, minimising harm and reducing stigma and discrimination,” says the strategy, released yesterday by Health Minister Cameron Dick.

A two-week survey by The Courier-Mail found an overwhelming 84 per cent of parents believed all Queensland state schools should be required to offer sex education.

In southern states, all schools provide sex education classes and parents who are opposed to the lessons have the option of excluding their child, but in Queensland, the decision about whether a school offers sex education is up to the principal.

Education Minister Kate Jones announced a parliamentary inquiry would examine the adequacy of sex education in Queensland.

The Sexual Health Strategy released yesterday goes further, identifying education as a “priority action” for combating the spread of sexually transmitted illnesses.

The strategy proposes expanding the implementation of relationships and sexuality education under the national curriculum for students in Prep to Year 10, “to promote optimal sexual and reproductive health, minimise harm, reduce stigma and discrimination and highlight the importance of respectful relationships and violence prevention”.

The Australian Curriculum’s health and physical education syllabus includes a component specific to relationships and sexuality education.