The other day I was shredding old files, and happened upon a couple of cases which brought home the health hazards of compensating for the sexual taboos we still hold so dearly in these United States.
One involved that of an attractive and bright college woman who was admitted to the hospital with fevers and chills. She denied being sexually active, using illegal drugs or ever having undergone a blood transfusion. As part of her fever work-up, however, she was found to be HIV positive. I still remember the tears flowing down her face as she explained that she was a virgin, but had had anal intercourse with a classmate.
Another case involved a young woman admitted to the hospital with disseminated gonorrhea. A gynecological evaluation confirmed her protestations of virginity. Finally, after much consternation led to more careful questioning, I learned that she had recently performed fellatio upon a friend.
The specific medical lessons of these examples (namely, that anal sex is a particularly effective means of HIV transmission due to the lack of moisture and increased incidence of lacerations, and that oral sex is an effective means of transmitting other sexually transmitted diseases) aside, these encounters speak volumes about the need for a clear and consistent definition of virginity, abstinence and sex that account for heterosexual and non-heterosexual experiences.