One of the problems we humans face in this modern world is that we are hardwired to reason from anecdote and have no capacity for accurate risk assessment. That’s why people become terrified by mass shootings but happily get into their automobiles and drive. The risk of the former is negligible despite all the ad-revenue-boosting media hype while the risk involved in the latter is significant.

When it comes to sex, especially because the USA is so neurotic and repressed, we dramatically over-estimate the actual risk of contracting a STD. One useful statistic from the days before HIV was a manageable disease: as a white middle class person with health coverage your lifetime risk of contracting HIV was only one-third of your lifetime risk of being struck by lightning. And that in turn was very, very, very low indeed.

It’s easy to be misled by statistics. For example “there’s been a 37% rise in STD cases among the over-60s” sounds scary. But if you dig down into the details and discover that the rate of STD infections among the over-60s is one in forty-seven thousand, then a 37% increase just pops your risk up from 0.0023% to 0.0029%. In other words you’re far more likely to die of an obesity-related illness or be harmed in an automobile accident than you are to contract anything from intimate contact with another human being. Yes, some people do — but most don’t. But because our brains are hardwired for confirmation bias we remember the one or two folks we know (or heard of) who did get STDs and we blank out our memory of the hundreds of people we know who didn’t.

The reality is that most people out there enjoying physical intimacy are doing so with very small risk, unless they are intimate with certain high-risk groups. While your article was probably designed to amuse, unfortunately it falls into the category of “feed the fear” and in the final analysis that may not be entirely helpful in a country that is already suffering from significant psychic warping in consequence of a Puritan notion of human sexuality.

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