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What Porn Culture And The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Africa Have In Common

By November 19, 2017 No Comments

Africa is an enormous continent with 54 countries, containing between 1,500 and 2,000 different spoken languages. It’s a beautifully diverse place, home to both the lushest jungles and the driest deserts on earth, with incredible cultural diversity, and some of the most gorgeous sites on the planet. Also, we also have Fighters in over a dozen countries in Africa! How cool is that?

Despite being such an amazing place, this region is also struggling with some intense public health issues.

Obviously, each country and person will have their own unique set of issues within their unique cultures. Of course, we aren’t intending to make any sweeping generalizations about an entire continent of over 1.2 billion people. Even so, the fact is that there’s a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping across parts of Africa—concentrated in some areas more than others—and we don’t think we have to tell you what a problem that is.

Here are some statistics from DoSomething.org, an awareness-raising website that educates on global issues:

  • There are 34 million HIV-positive people in the world.
  • 69% of those people of those people live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 91% of HIV-positive children of the world live in Africa.
  • More than 1 million adults and children die every year from HIV/AIDS in Africa alone.

Wow. So, what does any of this have to do with pornography? Well, you might be surprised.

Porn Is Everywhere

First, let’s establish some basic facts: of the estimated 1,246,504,865 people who live in Africa in 2017, 388,376,491 of them are regular internet users. That’s about 31% of the population, which is a lot lower than the rest of the world, but not so low that no one is accessing porn. (We know—we’ve gotten countless messages from Fighters all over Africa who tell us their stories.)

Related: Award-Winning Ghana Actor Majid Michel Reveals Why He’s Against Porn

And if you have doubts that porn affects parts of Africa, listen to this: a recent study that included 200 youth in Ghana showed that 97% of them viewed pornography. (And 100% of them thought that porn-fueled problems can be addressed by getting the proper education about the damages of pornography.) That’s a small sample in one of the 52 countries, but it gives you an idea that porn really is everywhere.

Porn Is A Terrible Way to Learn About Sex

Here’s another basic fact: sex isn’t the only way to get HIV/AIDS, but is definitely one of the most common ways to pass it on, especially for our generation.

Now, here’s where porn really comes into play. In most of the porn industry, performers are not required to use protection while having sex on camera—even with riskier kinds of sex. And even though performers themselves have to be regularly checked for STDs and STIs, it only happens every few weeks, but the regular consumer wouldn’t know that.

And usually, they don’t leave the industry without having contracted some form of a sexually-transmitted disease. But the regular consumer wouldn’t know that, either, because the industry works hard to keep up a glamorous image.

RelatedReddit Users Try Showing Porn To A Remote Kenyan Tribe, And Their Reply Is Perfect

But what’s a lesson that sticks with the average consumer, then, especially when they’re young and probably don’t know much about sexual health? Judging by the average porn video found on mainstream sites, that lesson would be that using protection “is a nuisance,” and shouldn’t be bothered with.

Researchers are actually finding that porn’s influence can and does find its way into sexual behaviors of our generation and the next. [1] For example, people who have consumed a significant amount of porn are more likely to start having sex sooner and with more partners, to engage in riskier kinds of sex that put them at greater risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, and to have actually contracted an STI. [2]

RelatedTabitha’s Story: What Happened When I Raised Awareness On Porn’s Harms In Swaziland

And in a place where HIV/AIDS is more prevalent, and education isn’t the most informative when it comes to sex, this is pretty dangerous behavior to be normalizing—both in Africa and everywhere else around the world, really.

Relying on Porn for “Education”

Many young porn consumers really do rely on the warped fantasy of porn to form their ideas and expectations about sex. Too often, even in developed countries in Africa, our generation and the next are learning about sex from watching pornography, which you can imagine presents many problems.

In fact, the majority of teens are getting at least some “education” about sex from porn, whether they mean to or not. [3] And just like cigarette commercials show healthy people puffing away instead of the cancer-causing reality, porn is offering a completely warped idea of what partners, sex, and relationships are really like. [4]

Related: Study Indicates High STD Incidence And Reinfection Among Porn Performers

Studies show that people who consume porn are far more likely to believe that things like group sex or dangerous sex acts are more common than their non-porn-consuming peers. [5] Why? Because that’s what they’ve seen in porn. In one study of popular porn videos, the average number of sexual partners in a scene was three, although the number ranged as high as 19. Today’s mainstream porn sites include whole categories of unprotected sex with strangers, brutal gang rape, and other dangerous and violent sex acts.

And in a world where unsafe practices could literally be a life or death situation when it comes to HIV/AIDS in parts of Africa, having the “fantasy” of risky porn sex normalized isn’t great for public health.

Inform, Educate, Raise Awareness

If our generation is continually watching porn that doesn’t regularly show people using protection, how does this help to instill safer sex practices that can protect them from disease for those who need it most? This is especially true in areas hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, assuming they’re part of the 31% of the continent that regularly accesses the internet.

That’s why it’s so important that we act as a global team to inform, educate, and raise awareness that porn is not anything close to quality education when it comes to sex, and it’s completely unrealistic and even dangerous in what it portrays. This isn’t an issue that’s going to go away on its own—wherever we are, we need to take a stand for healthy relationships and spread the word that porn doesn’t provide the best education possible.

What YOU Can Do

Spread the word that porn is unhealthy education for our generation. SHARE this post and take a stand for healthy relationships!

Spark Conversations

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Citations

[1] Peter, J. & Valkenburg, P. M., (2016) Adolescents And Pornography: A Review Of 20 Years Of Research. Journal Of Sex Research, 53(4-5), 509-531. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441; Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908
[2] Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48(6), 520-530. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner & D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Carroll, J. S., Padilla-Walker, L. M., & Nelson, L. J. (2008). Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance And Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal Of Adolescent Research 23(1), 6–30. Doi:10.1177/0743558407306348; Haggstrom-Nordin, E., Tyden, T., & Hanson, U. (2005). Associations Between Pornography Consumption And Sexual Practices Among Adolescents In Sweden. International Journal Of STD & AIDS, 16(2), 102–7. Doi:10.1258/0956462053057512; Wingood, G. M., Et Al. (2001). Exposure To X-Rated Movies And Adolescents’ Sexual And Contraceptive-Related Attitudes And Behaviors. Pediatrics, 107(5), 1116–19. Retrieved From Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pubmed/11331695
[3] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In J. Stoner & D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 16-17; Prigg, M., & Sims, P. (2004). Truth About Dangers Of Net As Half Of Children Are Exposed To Porn. The Evening Standard (London), September 3; U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2003). File-Sharing Programs: Peer-To-Peer Networks Provide Ready Access To Child Pornography. Washington, D.C.: GAO, February.
[4] Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In J. Stoner & D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Carroll, J. S., Padilla-Walker, L. M., And Nelson, L. J. (2008). Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance And Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal Of Adolescent Research, 23(1), 6–30. Doi:10.1177/0743558407306348; Layden, M. A. (2004). Committee On Commerce, Science, And Transportation, Subcommittee On Science And Space, U.S. Senate, Hearing On The Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction, November 18; Marshall, W. L. (2000). Revisiting The Use Of Pornography By Sexual Offenders: Implications For Theory And Practice. Journal Of Sexual Aggression, 6(1-2), 67. Doi:10.1080/13552600008413310; Mosher, D. L. & MacIan, P. (1994). College Men And Women Respond To X-Rated Videos Intended For Male Or Female Audiences: Gender And Sexual Scripts. Journal Of Sex Research 31(2), 99–112. Doi:10.1080/00224499409551736; Brosius, H. B., Et Al. (1993). Exploring The Social And Sexual “Reality” Of Contemporary Pornography. Journal Of Sex Research, 30(2), 161–70. Doi:10.1080/00224499309551697
[5] Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, Normalization And Empowerment. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6) 1389-1401. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9592-5; Doring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s Impact On Sexuality: A Critical Review Of 15 Years Of Research. Computers In Human Behavior, 25(5), 1089-1101. Doi:10.1016/J.Chb.2009.04.003; Layden, M. A. (2004). Committee On Commerce, Science, And Transportation, Subcommittee On Science And Space, U.S. Senate, Hearing On The Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction, November 18; ; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27(2), 41–44. Doi:10.1016/S1054-139X(00)00137-3

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