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Long Beach ranks high in amount of HIV/AIDS carriers

Lecturers talked to students about sexual taboos, STIs and HIV and good sex on Wednesday for Sex Positive Week in Cal State Long Beach’s University Student Union ballroom amid an array of books like “The Ethical Slut,” safe sex kits and T-shirts labeled “I (heart) consensual sex.”

The goal of Sex Positive Week was to promote talking about sex openly without the usual whispers and giggles and to awaken the uncomfortable silence surrounding the subject. The premise was that having healthy sexual dialogue develops healthy sexual habits and attitudes.

Mariana Velasquez, co-chair of Feminist Organization Reclaiming Consciousness and Equality (F.O.R.C.E.), said that talking about sex in a positive way helps people to get the education that they missed when it was too hard to talk about it. She referred to her Roman-Catholic background as her reason for getting involved with F.O.R.C.E.

“When I asked my mother where do babies come from, it was like she gave me a recipe for guacamole,” Velasquez said. “You put this and this together and then you get a baby.”   

11 a.m. Loveology: Sexual Taboos

Speakers Hernando Chaves and Shelly Barnum gave students a no-nonsense approach to sensitive and private matters like sexual orientation, hedonism, fetishes and sex workers.

Chaves is a psychotherapist and clinical sexologist practicing out of Beverly Hills. He is also a certified love coach and loveologist. A loveologist works in a therapeutic setting with people about issues of communication and intimacy.

Barnum claims fame as the youngest loveologist yet. She is currently working on her psychology degree at California State University of Northridge.

Barnum began the lecture with the question “what is a taboo?” Students in the audience answered, “something you are not supposed to do” and, “something that is not acceptable to society.”

The duo continued with a Webster’s Dictionary definition and then added the word “sexual” to the front. Chaves and Barnum set a tone of tolerance and told students that sexual taboos differ from one society to the next.

Chaves said that out of more than 100 societies studied only 21 are tolerant of kissing.

“It’s interesting to have sex [talked about] on a college campus, because everybody’s doing it,” said Nicole Watson, a junior of hospitality. “It’s nice to have taboos we hear about on the underground discussed out in the open in the middle of the day.” 

12 p.m. Heidi Burkey: STIs and HIV

Heidi Burkey, CSULB Student Health Services educator for STIs and HIV, encouraged students to take their sexual health seriously.

Burkey discussed the methods of transmission, testing, symptoms and prevention of STIs and the importance of young people to be aware of the dangers in having unsafe sex. Barnum offered counseling and medical resources at the Student Health Services, as well as condoms at 12 for $2.

According to Burkey, Los Angeles County is No. 2 in the nation and Long Beach is No. 2 in the county for people carrying the HIV and AIDS viruses. With this in mind, Barnum advised students to empower themselves by opening up conversations about safe sex and preparing themselves with condoms because “they probably didn’t think they were hot enough to get lucky that night.”

“You really don’t think about these things when you’re with your partner,” said Steven Martinez, a business finance senior who is taking a human sexuality course, “but when you take a class like this it makes you more aware, and that’s good.”

Burkey discussed at length the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and its controversial vaccine, Gardasil. The virus is responsible for genital warts and cervical cancer. She said it is a complicated infection with many levels and that 50 percent of Americans are already infected. Gardisil is available at Health Services for a slightly discounted fee.  

1 p.m. Linda Pena: Sex and communication, sexual assault and sex, alcohol and drugs

Educator and certified drug counselor, Linda Pena, challenged students to get out of their heads because “a lot of what happens with sex is up [there].”

Pena promotes having verbal intercourse before having sexual intercourse.

Students were asked what their “dream sex” or ideal sex and to compare it to their first time.  On a continuum of one to 10, the highest in the room was a seven.

“I’m kind of disappointed now,” said freshman Caroline Cruz. She is still a virgin and thought that attaining your ideal experience would be more common.

Pena illustrated the dialogue that should go on between partners to get closer to their ideal sexual experiences.

The room was awkward at first but eventually the students began to open up and share. They conversed about what their parents did or did not teach them and the reasons why it was so awkward.

Pena shared a personal story of her sex life. She said that for two years she was having sex thinking it was great but never experiencing an orgasm until she was under the influence of a substance.

“It was in that altered state of mind that I was able to get out of the box and feel something beyond what I thought it should be like,” Pena said. Though, she added she does not endorse having sex under the influence.

 Pena said that conversations about sex should begin at the onset of a relationship. Consent and openness, Pena told students, are the key thing is to having a satisfying sex life. 
 
 
 
 

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