If you ever plan to have sex, you need to know this:

Recently, in south Siskiyou County a young man and a young woman were attracted to each other.

What they knew – they wanted to have sex. What they didn’t know – she was infected with the HIV virus.

What they know now – they both have a deadly, incurable disease. What they still don’t know – to how many people have they since given it?

How did this happen? They didn’t know the facts. Here are some facts you should know.

HIV is the virus that spreads AIDS. You cannot tell, by looking, who has the HIV virus. You can catch the virus the very first time you have sex. Yes, “normal” sex. Yes, here in Siskiyou County.

If your partner has ever had sex with anyone, just one other person, you’ve essentially just had sex with someone else.

Figure it out. Oral six is not safe sex. A sore on the mouth touching a sore on the genitals (even a small one you do not know is there) can transmit the virus.

This is called “blood to blood” transmission. Any infected blood touching any uninfected blood, anywhere on the body, can transmit the virus.

Touching, hugging, using the same toilet seat, drinking from the same glass – unless there is blood on the glass and you have an open wound in your mouth – cannot transmit the virus.

Women are at higher risk than men for getting AIDS during “normal” sex and, in the United States, it is the primary way women get AIDS.

Most everyone has heard that AIDS is transmitted through “dirty” or reused needles. So, that means drug addicts right?

What about tattoo needles? Yes, AIDS is transmitted through reused tattoo needles and this is not uncommon.

When you get a tattoo, watch the technician open a fresh needle from a sealed pouch. If you have had a friend, or a friend of a friend, give you a tattoo – go get tested for AIDS. If you are at all in doubt, it is wise to double check.

There is no cure for AIDS; there is no vaccine.

What should you do? If you have ever had sex, go to your healthcare provider and get tested.

Then what? If you are negative, use condoms. They prevent transmission of the HIV virus 80 percent of the time. They really work.

If you test positive? There is treatment that can help you have a normal life. There are support services here in Siskiyou County and your knowledge can help you to not give this disease to anyone else.

If you have never had sex, wait until you are ready to be in a serious monogamous relations and both of you are tested first.

Is it worth waiting? Yes. Do you want to get HIV? Think about it. But only prudes and old people wait. Hmmm...

If you are sexually active, is AIDS the only thing you need to worry about? No of course not. Sex opens a door to adulthood that carries a lot of responsibility.

There are many serious sexually transmitted diseases still rampant in the United States; some that will change your life forever – chlamydia, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, crabs, trichomonas, and Human Papilloma virus or HPV – not to mention pregnancy.

Human Papilloma virus causes cervical cancer in women. It is newly recommended that all boys and girls 11 years or older receive the HPV vaccine. By vaccinating against a disease, the disease can be entirely eradicated.

Unfortunately, some people think their children don’t need the vaccine because they are not old enough to have sex. This is like saying, I won’t have my child vaccinated against the mumps until I expect them to be around an infected child.

Your child will most likely have sex some day; it makes sense to protect them now – while you still are in charge of their healthcare.

What are the bottom line points?

If you have ever had sex, get tested for HIV; and always use condoms in the future.

If you have never had sex, get the HPV vaccine and wait. Sex is not all fun and games; it carries a lot of serious responsibilities.