|Knowledge is truly the key to the problem|
Today is Martin Luther King's birthday. Most of you have heard the "I have a dream" speech, made famous by his presentation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Although it wasn't "new" for that day - it was an adaptation of a few speeches previously presented - the thoughts behind it coalesced compelling thoughts for millions. That gave birth to further understanding and acceptance, and helped move the entire process (read: education) of the United States; making progress in combating ignorance, prejudice and fear. That process is far from complete, but great progress has been made.
In the early 1980s a new blanket of ignorance, prejudice and fear was thrown over the collective heads of not only the American public, but of peoples around the world; a new disease that appeared to cross all boundaries, with no discriminatory capability of its own: AIDS. It circled the globe with the speed of modern travel of the time, and soon affected people on every continent of our planet - except Antarctica, as far as we know.
Where did it come from? How was it spread? Who could be blamed for it? Populations everywhere clamored for answers like villagers to their spiritual guides when some new affliction reached where they lived. At first the homosexuals were blamed for it, and that prejudice - coupled with another long standing one - has lasted to this day, despite extensive proof that it is only one of many ways of transmission.
My educated guess is that there aren't all that many IV drug users or heterosexuals in extremely uneducated third world countries that follow this site, so let's leave them and the other fringe transmission possibilities out of the loop today and stick with sex, shall we?
So far I've kept this site acceptable for all but the most innocent of audiences so I'm not going to go into any graphic detail today, but if you look at totals of infection overall the Human Immune Deficiency virus (HIV) that leads to AIDS is primarily spread by sexual contact. A generalization, but one I'm going to run with today.
Let me say that I personally know some Thai/Westerner couples in long-term, committed monogamous relationships, and I think that's wonderful. That's what life's all about: sharing, caring, and being one unit. Today's post is for the others.
If we go back again for a moment to the regular followers of this site I'd think it safe to say that a good number of you are planning to visit the country within the next year or so, if you haven't already. Maybe I'll start a poll on this just for my own curiosity one of these days. Of those folks, there are a number who may be planning to have sexual contact with someone. I say "may", because the vast majority of tourists through Thailand do not go there for the sex, as unbelievable as that may sound to some. By the way, I'm not judging the sex tourists today, so please attempt to keep your knickers from bunching up.
Today's point is that if you're thinking of visiting one venue or another in search of sex you need to be better educated than the sex workers themselves if you wish to protect yourself from exposure to HIV or the wide spectrum of other sexually transmitted diseases that await you in any such situation. The early warning line we got in the USA "If you have sex with someone, you're also sleeping with everyone they've slept with before you (et cetera, et cetera)" is just as valid today as it was a few decades ago, and worth thinking about.
If you believe that the male or female you rent for a while hasn't slept with anyone before you there's an investment opportunity I know of that's just for you - please email me today. Fall in love with a bar boy or a bar girl? Bollocks. I wish you the best of luck in your fool's paradise, and I hope you continue to wear protection for all varieties of sex each time you come back to visit the one who you believe sits and waits for you while you're back home. Let's take a quick look at some of the delights that await you if you don't, shall we?
Trichomoniasis (more with female contact)
Bacterial Vaginosis (also more female)
HPV - that can cause:
Genital warts and
You can add to that any number of miscelaneous UTIs (urinary tract infections) as icing on the cake if you really need to, but the above 10 ought to make you stop and think... at least a little bit. While some of these can be treated, slowed or cured, some are gifts that keep on giving for a lifetime, and a couple can help bring life to a close far earlier than it probably would have otherwise.
Youth often believes they wear a cloak of invincibility, and that's why 85% of Thai youth don't think HIV is something they need to concern themselves with - although 70% of sexual infections occur in this group - and only an estimated 20 - 30% of them use condoms [noted from a study by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs].
So, my dream today is this: may knowledge find a way to do an end run around the rampant cultural, dogmatic and social prejudices that have hobbled the dissemination of information to help peoples around the world make an educated choice, at the very least.
For those of you who already have the information at your fingertips and are not in a monogamous relationship (one that you are as sure of as you can possibly be) please make use of it and be safe - with every partner, every time.
Not a very jolly topic for a holiday, but for some of you out there it's a matter of life and death. Yours.