Human Sexuality: A Public Health Issue
by Steven Hockett
Each person's sexuality has always been a private issue, concerning themselves, their partners and possibly their clergy; however, events of the last thirty years have forced many to rethink the issue and view it on a more public basis. The first case of AIDS was documented in 1981, and since that time more than 1.6 million Americans have been infected with the HIV virus, with roughly a third of those cases proving to be fatal.  AIDS now ranks as the fourth leading cause of death in the world, behind only heart disease, stroke, and acute lower respiratory infections; there are 22 million cases in sub-Saharan Africa alone.  The teen pregnancy numbers are just as alarming. Approximately 7% of teen girls became pregnant during 2006, or one out of every 14 girls in America.  This is after a decade and a half decline in the number of teen pregnancies since the numbers peaked in the early 1990's. Where would we be without the billions of tax dollars that are spent by both Federal and State governments every year to help educate Americans on these issues and their prevention? It is clear that the astronomical number of cases relating to both HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy have placed a huge burden on the rest of society, both financial and personal, thus making human sexuality as it relates to HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy a public health issue.
The opposition will argue that these matters are of a private nature, therefore they should be dealt with on a personal level within the home or religious setting of each individual. While this may be a valid point for certain areas of a person's sexuality, such as sexual orientation of partner choice, as it relates to these issues it most certainly is not. Even with current government recommendations that HIV testing be a standard part of medical care for every American aged between 13-64, one in five infected...