Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's all fun and games until there's a meningitis outbreak

Last century, when I was a Public Health Nurse, I worked on the Healthy Sexuality team. One of the challenges we faced was how to make teenagers understand their personal risk factors for acquiring a Sexually Transmitted Disease, without becoming too technical, preachy, or boring. We came up with some innovative lesson plans, but none as "interesting" as the gum game which has been used for the past nine years in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Until last month, the Rockville Pregnancy Center taught 90-minute classes on abstinence and STDs to high school health classes. Part of their schtick was to invite students to take turns chewing the same piece of gum.

Yeah. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

Absurdly, the Washington Post article linked above quotes health officials as saying that sharing gum poses a low risk of transmitting germs, "on par with drinking from the same cup."

Again, ewwwwwwwwww.

Gail Tierney, the executive director of the Rockville Pregnancy Center, did protesteth that:

We saw 6,500 kids last year. Who's going to talk to them now?

Might I suggest someone with a superficial understanding of how meningitis is spread?

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