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Charlie Sheen’s HIV announcement should be a teachable moment

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The internet is buzzing after Charlie Sheen’s Today Show appearance, where he announced that he has been HIV positive for more than four years. I shouldn’t be surprised that memes and jokes about Sheen #notwinning would be trending on social media, but speculation about his behavior leading up to his diagnosis and the subsequent online reaction was upsetting.

I consider myself an extremely open-minded and sexually liberated progressive, so I have no interest in using this story for anti-sex fear mongering. At the same time, there’s been this nonchalant attitude toward casual sex with little to no emphasis on making sure people protect themselves as much as possible when they’re sexually active. The U.S. actually debates whether or not it makes sense to educate people about this very real problem.

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Recently TYT reported on a rather salacious story for Veteran’s Day featuring a porn star named “Jenny Jizz” who offered to give vets free blow jobs as a token of her gratitude. On its face the story was raunchy and fun. But I felt like a Debbie downer grandmother pointing out that she’s putting herself and others at risk of contracting some pretty serious sexually transmitted diseases.

Also consider the fact that sex sells extremely well, and explicit content is everywhere around us. It’s in advertisements, television shows, and almost every other form of entertainment imaginable. At the same time, education on sex, which would equip young people with the information required to keep themselves safe, is not the norm in the U.S. Unfortunately sex ed is more of a controversial political issue, when it should just be common sense.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 22 states require schools to teach sex education, and among them 19 states require that sex education must be medically, factually or technically accurate. In other words, three states that teach sex ed don’t require the information to be accurate.

When it comes to HIV and AIDS, 33 states offer students some information or instruction. Wouldn’t it make sense to ensure that every state inform students about the realities of sex and how to protect themselves when nearly half of high school students report that they’re already sexually active?

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Not all states with sex ed provide students with comprehensive information. The Guttmacher Institute found that only 19 states require information on condoms and other contraception. Unsurprisingly, the states that don’t offer comprehensive sex ed tend to have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies.

The highest rates of new HIV cases per capita are in states like Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana, where education on HIV is not mandated.

Thankfully Sheen has the resources necessary to keep his HIV under control so he can live a long and healthy life. His doctor says the HIV isn’t even detectable in his blood because of the powerful anti-viral drugs he’s taking. But the majority of Americans don’t have the same resources, and it’s incredibly important to ensure that everyone is educated and knowledgeable about preventative options available to protect themselves from diseases.

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People have sex, and for all the parents cringing right now, young people are included in the equation. We can’t keep celebrating sexual content in all forms of media while simultaneously refusing to teach students how to be responsible if and when they’re sexually active.

 

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Ana Kasparian's #NoFilter

WATCH LIVE: Trump to address the nation after mass shootings leave 29 dead

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US President Donald Trump will address the nation on Monday after two shootings left 29 people dead and sparked accusations that his rhetoric was part of the problem.

The rampages turned innocent snippets of everyday life into nightmares of bloodshed: 20 people were shot dead while shopping at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday morning, and nine more outside a bar in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio just 13 hours later.

Trump will again find himself in the role of consoler-in-chief after a tragedy -- which he has struggled with in the past -- when he speaks at 10:00 am (1400 GMT).

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Ana Kasparian's #NoFilter

Trump to address nation after US shootings leave 29 dead

Published

on

US President Donald Trump will address the nation on Monday after two shootings left 29 people dead and sparked accusations that his rhetoric was part of the problem.

The rampages turned innocent snippets of everyday life into nightmares of bloodshed: 20 people were shot dead while shopping at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday morning, and nine more outside a bar in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio just 13 hours later.

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2020 Election

Julián Castro destroys NRA’s ‘good guy with a gun’ claim: Armed Texans ‘didn’t keep those people safe’ in El Paso

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Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro reacted to the weekend mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by knocking down the conservative premise that a "good guy with a gun" can stop the violence.

In an interview on CNN, Castro said that President Donald Trump is "making it worse" by "fanning the flames of bigotry and of hate."

The candidate also blasted the NRA's talking points.

"The NRA, for years, has said that the answer to these mass shootings is more guns, that a good guy with a gun is the answer," Castro added. "We’re in Texas. That shooter went into a situation where people routinely carry guns."

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