From the front lines of public health

Rashida is a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda teaching "teaching life skills/health/whatever at a local secondary school," as well as a blogger. She also happens to be in the same Hopkins global health Masters program as me (but a year or two ahead, so we've never met). Her latest post starts with this:

Since the kids are often shy around the muzungu (and in front of their classmates), I thought it would better to set up an anonymous questions box, where students can ask questions about health, etc. without having to ask them in front of everyone. Well, no one else seemed as excited about this idea as I was, so I thought the box would just be forgotten about, or maybe even stolen by a trouble-making student. Imagine my surprise when I came back to the school two days after setting up the box to find it overstuffed with questions. I was a bit overwhelmed by the volume of questions posed to me, so I told the students to let me take them home and prepare my answers for next week. Well, here are some of the questions that I got:
  • If you have sex during your menstruation, do you get pregnant?
  • Is it true that if you kiss someone who has HIV, you’ll also get HIV?
  • There are some boys who disturb me during my leisure time, but if I see them I feel like vomiting. What can I do, please help me?
  • Is it true that if young people play sex before menstruation begins you can still get pregnant?
  • How can I know when playing sex that sperm is coming through the penis?
  • Is it true that if you delay having sex you become an abnormal person?
  • Is it bad to practice homosexuality?
  • People usually tell us to have sex when we are still young in order to become perfect in sex. What is the meaning of perfect in sex?

There are quite a few more in the rest of the post,  and they just get more disturbing. Personally I wouldn't know where to start, and I greatly admire those who have the patience, courage, and tact to do this badly needed work. It must be especially difficult to do this sort of work as a foreigner.  Alas, I described this post -- and the sample questions -- to a friend who does sex ed in New York City and was told that the questions are remarkably similar to what you get asked here.