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One day, one of my friends mentioned he preferred good food to good sex, since both give you equal pleasure yet the former is much “safer.” While I love food porn as much as other varieties, is it really true that enjoying sex safely is such rare luxury? How bad is food poisoning, really?
Here are some numbers from the World Health Organization:
The WHO says: “An estimated 600 million — almost 1 in 10 people in the world — fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs).”
On the other hand, “each year, there are estimated 357 million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.” Not just that, but, “Syphilis in pregnancy leads to over 300 000 fetal and neonatal deaths each year, and places an additional 215 000 infants at increased risk of early death.”
Apparently, food-borne diseases and STIs equally account for a great number or sickness and, less frequently yet inevitably, deaths around the world.
We don’t simply ask people to stop eating because of the risk of cholera or salmonellosis. Instead, we try to improve the quality of food processing and storage as well as to secure the clean water access for everyone. However, when it comes to STIs, it’s often too easy for the health care providers to shy away from a proper talk about one’s sexual life with their clients; instead, giving them advices such as abstinence from sex.
In some countries, talking about sexual health is a taboo, resulting in life sentences or even death threats. While most public health sectors and political leaders are comfortable with putting a lot of effort and money into food safety, when it comes to sexual health, their reactions are outdated and inadequate.
As one ancient Chinese philosopher said: “Appetite and lust are only natural.” It’s time we pay attention and invest in sexual health. After all, we are what we eat.