“Can having unprotected anal sex, like, make HIV?”
“What? I don’t understand your question.”
“Like, if two people that don’t have HIV have unprotected anal sex… my health ed teacher at my other school told me you can make HIV by having unprotected anal sex.”
My eyebrows climbed up my face for safety and my eyes went wide.
“No. Absolutely not. If the virus is not present in either person it will not just appear. One person must be a host and to pass it to the other person. It’s like saying you’ll create a sweater if you have two knitting needles but no yarn.”
My friends were horrified when I told them about this conversation. One big humanity failure, they said. Weep for all of us, they proclaimed. What a bunch of ignorant people, they mumbled.
Yes and no. I have frequent facepalm moments in sex ed but every uttered myth is a moment for education. Honestly, I like it when students or clients ask me questions that many would consider dumb or ignorant. This is why I strive to remain calm in the face of others’ panic. If a person has misinformation it is not their fault.
So much of our media spreads false studies and rumors-as-fact. Pseudo-experts go on Dr. Phil and Maury to scare parents about sexual trends that are verified urban myths. Of course the general public is miseducated.
What sucks is that schools leave teachers without resources and don’t encourage any fact-checking practices. This is when misinformation spreads like a SoCal fire.
I am happy when I hear questions that might make others weep. Our conversation blossomed into information about sexual viruses in general, stigmas and what we really need to be concerned about. Next week I’m going to teach them about media literacy and how to spot bullshit media reports on flawed research.