STDs and magical thinking

I have mentioned before that I help out sometimes at advice websites. I’ve noticed something. Some people seem to fixate on STDs and pregnancy almost as if it’s a great “boogeyman” that can defeat the laws of physics. Their concern over the consequences of getting pregnant, or getting a disease (seen by many as about the same thing, by the way) overrides all rationality.

I’ll get questions about HIV, for example, things like “I hugged someone, could I get HIV?” I understand ignorance, but often the questions will come up after they have already been told that HIV is a very delicate virus that doesn’t survive for more than a minute ore two (AT MOST) outside the body, and requires blood to blood contact or sexual fluid to blood contact. Even so, the fear and emotional impact bypasses any kind of logic.

I’ve seen people ask if they could get pregnant if had taken a shower with someone and kissed them in the shower. Sorry! It doesn’t work that way! Though they do know where babies come from, superstition reigns supreme. I’ll keep out of explicit territory of course, but it’s really amazing how many misconceptions I see that persist even after proper education has been given! Instead of thinking of the way things really work, people who are afraid often start thinking symbolically, as if viruses can defeat the laws of physics.

Fear is a powerful emotion but it’s sad when it overcomes people’s reason.

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