Sexually transmitted diseases are skyrocketing all over the globe. Public health departments report staggering increases in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis with more than 2 million cases recorded in 2016. Gonorrhea is reaching antibiotic-resistant superbug status, chlamydia is evolving into new strains and oral HPV cases among men have surpassed cases of HPV caused cervical cancer.

On this episode of The Health and Wellness Show we'll take a look at the precipitous rise in STDs and its correlation to pornography, dating apps, the hookup culture and the general moral degradation of society. Is the spread of STDs just a symptom of the collapse of civilization?

And stay tuned at the end of the show where Zoya's Pet Health Segment will lighten the mood with interesting facts about octopuses.

Running Time: 01:15:33

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health and Wellness Show everybody. Today is Friday, November 10, 2017. My name is Jonathan. I'll be your host for today and joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we have Tiffany, Elliot, Doug and Gaby. Hey guys.

All: Hellos.

Jonathan: We're missing Erica today. We wish her well. Today our topic is syphilitic superpower, the rise of STDs. We just want to talk about this because with all the things in the news, of course obvious world events, politics, even disease, things like that, people are talking about vaccinations, there's flu season, in the general public, given the subject, the topic of STDs is not very widely discussed. But they have been increasing and some of them have been mutating which is pretty interesting.

So we want to go through that and talk about what may have caused this and what the ramifications are. We are going to be speculating, just to lay that on the table, but this is the topic we want to discuss. I think it's pretty interesting because I remember when I was younger, right before the advent of my teen years, I grew up fairly sheltered so I was kind of coming out of my box. I started hearing people talking about sex and drugs and these kind of things and a lot of it was about AIDS. This was in the mid-to-early '90s.

So I grew up with that stuck in my mind and now I actually heard somebody say the other day that they'd rather get AIDS than cancer. So it's an interesting thing now. The threat of it has gone down in peoples' minds where it's not like you're worried about it. But I think maybe there's been more education too because - I'm not making this up - I've seen people who will wipe stuff down that they know people who have AIDS have touched because they're afraid of that. It's very hard without actual transfer of bodily fluids to catch it. You can't catch it from touching someone is what I'm saying.

So I think a lot of the misconceptions, the understanding around it has changed, but it's also the "lesser known" chlamydia, gonorrhea, things like that, are changing now and there are different strains that are being discovered and that's I think what's interesting and might catch people off-guard. HPV too, is a big one right now that people are talking about.

Gaby: Actually men prefer it to cancer.

Jonathan: Yeah. Pardon my French, but just to be completely frank, we were talking about this beforehand and is the question really are people just getting more promiscuous? Or is there something else going on here where it's evolving or it's maybe the environment knocking down immune systems making this possible? That's kind of what we want to get into today.

Tiffany: I kind of had the same experience as you Jonathan. When I was coming up in school, maybe in high school, college, the whole safe sex thing, "use condoms, condoms, safe sex, get tested", all that was all over the place and now I don't hear much about it at all. It's like nobody cares about STDs anymore and yet there's all these public health departments in various states around the country, North Carolina, California, Nevada, it seems like everywhere all their health departments are reporting millions of new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, especially in the last few years.

Doug: I remember when I was growing up, even in elementary school, in health class, there was a list of all the different STDs and looking back on it now it seemed like a way to just scare the shit out of the kids and not to mess around or anything. But just outside of that context, it was never really a big thing because in the '70s these things were all rampant and then they were just using antibiotics to get rid of them. So when I grew up I don't think I knew anybody who ever had one of these diseases. Granted, it's not exactly something you're necessarily going to talk about, but even with my close friend, I never knew anybody who had gonorrhea or syphilis and I had some friends who were quite promiscuous. I think the worst I ever heard of was a friend who had herpes but other than that I never really encountered it so it was never on my radar at all. So to hear that these things are all coming back with a vengeance is really surprising actually.

Gaby: I still haven't processed the new information. I went to Mexico in the '90s and you would never hear of a case of syphilis or gonorrhea and when you did it was a bizarre thing from the past and it was probably somebody in a very low lifestyle level. For example, the World Health Organization statistics estimate that 78 million people a year get gonorrhea?!? That's a lot of people!

Tiffany: And according to the CDC...

Elliot: Apparently with the syphilis they...

Tiffany: Go ahead.

Elliot: Sorry. I think there's a lag on my end. I was just going to say apparently with the syphilis, I think it was in the early 2000s they thought that they were starting to overcome it, that the rates had gone down to such an extent that they thought it would eventually just naturally die out and then 15 years on from that, suddenly it has come back with a vengeance and it seems like it's resistant to many forms of antibiotics as well. So it's like it has come back in a different way, it has almost mutated. And now it's like something that loads of health professionals and scientists are warning about and saying "This could potentially become a really big problem".

Gaby: Yeah. For instance the example of the antibiotic resistance, there are extended spectrums of all strains, these are hard core antibiotics and in most countries these types of antibiotics are the only antibiotics that will kill gonorrhea and yet resistance to them has already been reported in 50 countries in the world. That was totally unheard of.

Jonathan: They're calling it a superbug right now. In fact one of the articles we were looking at from CNBC, "Gonorrhea superbug could be worse than AIDS." So yes this could be another kind of scare. It could be emblematic of the media blowing things out of proportion but for instance, William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors says, "It's an emergency situation. It's getting more and more dangerous as time moves on."

So I don't think we can discount this, just like we're looking at other superbugs like MRSA and things like that, that are mutating to resist antibiotics. Why would it be any different with STDs? People might disagree with me here but I think that you could safely assume that casual sex is on the rise or that it's happening more than it used to. That may be naïve of me. If you look back at the 60s and 70s and the summer of love and all that, I certainly could be wrong. But with increased connectivity and apps like Tinder and Grindr and things like that...

Doug: Yeah!

Jonathan: ...and people can just go find a sex partner in 10 minutes if you live in the city.

Doug: I honestly wonder if the whole hippy summer of love thing was maybe more segregated to specific subcultures and maybe it wasn't really as widespread as we're necessarily led to believe. I don't know for sure. I've never seen statistics on this kind of thing. But casual sex and the use of apps and dating websites and all that kind of stuff or complete, anonymous casual sex, I don't know if that kind of thing has ever existed before. It seemed like people always had to put the effort in. {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah.

Doug: At least find out where the orgy was happening, start running in those circles. But now it seems like it's really, really easy and it has become very normalized as well. That's what it seems like to me. There isn't the same kind of stigma against that kind of thing that once existed.

Tiffany: Yeah, it's one thing to have these apps available but it's another thing to actually take advantage of those apps. So that says a lot about where people's minds are these days.

Jonathan: Tinder and Grindr are two of the most popular apps in the marketplace. Viagra's one of the best-selling drugs in the history of the planet. You wrap something in sex, it sells. It's a stereotype but it's true.

Tiffany: Well I'm always suspicious of the World Health Organization and the CDC when they put out statistics because they lie so much, but according to the CDC in 2016 cases of Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reached more than two million. So to break it down, it was 1.6 million cases of Chlamydia, 470,000 cases of gonorrhea and 28,000 cases of syphilis.

Doug: And those are just new cases.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Gaby: Yeah, but even health officials...

Doug: And that's just in the US too.

Gaby: ...in certain states of the United States, for example in Oregon, their syphilis rates in Oregon increased by more than 1,000 percent from 2007 to 2014!

Jonathan: Whoa!

Doug: Jesus!

Gaby: A thousand percent!

Jonathan: That's a lot.

Doug: In the course of seven years. That's unbelievable!

Tiffany: If you go onto YouTube and just type in rise of STDs you'll see all of these local news stations and their health departments reporting about how much these STDs are rising and everybody is just shocked.

Jonathan: I wanted to address...

Gaby: And even recently...

Jonathan: Oh, I'm sorry Gaby. Go ahead I'll follow up after.

Gaby: I'm sorry. I have a delay I think. As a doctor I never heard of cases of syphilis and gonorrhea or very, very rarely. Just recently, like two days ago there was a colleague who's a paediatrician saying that he has this kid with kidney failure and with skin lesions and he studied this kid's case. He found out that both his parents were positive of syphilis. So the kid was sent to the hospital then was referred to a more specialized hospital in a city and he had to make an appointment for his parents to notify them that they should say that they both have syphilis, they're positive for syphilis. He was asking basically for their permission because he was planning to contact the specialist in the city to have the kid studied for congenital syphilis. I thought wow! We're in the 21st century and I have to think now about congenital syphilis when I see skin lesions and kidney failure! Wow! I'm still processing it.

Doug: I think one of the reasons it's so crazy is that we do think of these things as ancient diseases, things that would ravage populations a couple of hundred years ago. It's like "Oh yeah, that's a thing of the past. We don't have to worry about that anymore because of antibiotics." But now it's like all of a sudden these things are starting to creep up again.

Tiffany: Well syphilis is pretty old. There was some theory that Columbus got it from the Indians when he came over to "discover" the New World and he took it back to Europe. But that was kind of debunked because there were reports of syphilis in Europe before that. But this was in the 1400s or 1500s people started writing about syphilis and how it was such a scourge and every country that got it would call it the plague of some other country - say for instance if France had it they would call it the Spanish plague or some other place. No one ever wanted to take credit for having started syphilis. {laughter} But you kind of wonder why something like syphilis, is that something that's been around forever? Just one of those old, ancient bugs that just evolves with human beings?

Jonathan: Sure.

Doug: Maybe.

Jonathan: This may sound pretty weird and unscientific, but I wonder if it's our programmed-in karmic response for being promiscuous. {laughter} That's that Christian guilt part of me that wants to look for the bad karma.

Gaby: Well you know with syphilis, it behaves in a very similar way to Lyme's disease, borrelia burgdorferi. It is called the great imitator. It can imitate pretty much any disease. It can cause aneurisms in the aorta, where you aorta dilates very dangerously so it could rupture. It can destroy your central nervous system. It's a pretty horrifying disease and pretty much imitates any disease. And we also have a surge in Lyme's disease.

Tiffany: I've read something about syphilis maybe being confused with leprosy back in the olden days. There was really no way for them to differentiate the two diseases.

Doug: I was reading about how the big wig craze in the 17th century actually was likely due to everybody getting syphilis. They started losing their hair.

Gaby: Yeah, I heard that.

Doug: One king got syphilis, started losing his hair and he started wearing a wig and then all of his court people started imitating him and pretty soon it was wigs all around. Just totally wigging out. {laughter}

Gaby: I wonder about the hat fashion too.

Jonathan: The thought that had crossed my mind earlier was Doug, when you mentioned the attitude towards sex changing and the attitude towards STDs changing, it surprises me when I think about this is how many people are having random, casual, unprotected sex, that this is becoming a problem. Let's just be frank here, that wouldn't even cross my mind. Yes, as a younger person it may have but as you go through life you understand that there's a risk of a debilitating, life-long illness so you use protection. It's an A=B thing. I'm not trying to be naïve again here, but is sex really just that good that you just forget about all of the ramifications? I guess that's why we have a lot of single mothers too and broken families because it's the same thing with pregnancy. People just don't think about that.

Tiffany: I don't know.

Jonathan: It really is mindboggling a little bit.

Tiffany: Is it really that enjoyable? For a woman at least, how much can you get out of having sex with a stranger? Doesn't there have to be some kind of emotional connection?

Jonathan: Well I think we're touching onto where this ties into our cultural evolution. Yeah, because it is a sacred thing and it is and can be incredible, but everything with meaning in our culture feels like it's being diluted. I don't know if you guys get that vibe.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: And this I think would fall along similar lines. Call me a Puritan if you want, but it's a sacred connection between two people and when you dilute that and you start using it like a drug essentially, then that meaning gets lots. Now this is where I kind of go off into speculation, that maybe in the cosmic gears that move and how things work, that when you ignore something that has that deep of a meaning, it will come back and bite you.

Doug: I think that's a very good point. All we have to do is look at the rise of porn. That's taking this sacred thing and turning it into something completely debased and "no big deal, it's just casual, whatever. It's just having fun." The spread of porn is unbelievable, how far and wide that has come and how many people it has actually affecting and all these people being addicted to it. That presents sex as a pass-time, it's like playing video games, like there's nothing more to it. And kids see that so then the kids become promiscuous after seeing this. They've done studies to show that kids who are exposed to porn do tend to be more promiscuous. I think that's exactly what's going on.

Tiffany: Well these are really, really young kids too; even before they reach teenage years, that are watching porn and filming porn on their phones with their classmates.

Gaby: It also speaks about the rape culture.

Jonathan: It's a complicated thing, that term "rape culture". I think it does exist in a certain sense but it's hard to talk about because of the current environment. I didn't mean to cut you off. What did you mean when you said that?

Gaby: I was actually going to draw the analogy of what happened in the former Yugoslavia. It was notorious, the use of rape as a weapon and it also became known that it was the population where dangerous genital STDs spread more rapidly and they behaved more aggressively. There is an author Paul Ewald who wrote a book that became a bestseller in its time called Plague Time - the New Germ Theory of Disease and he was speculating that from an evolutionary point of view, sexually transmitted diseases will envolve increased virulence in populations that have high potentials for sexual transmission.

So he takes the example of Yugoslavia where rape was used as a weapon. There were very dangerous papilloma viruses in this case where it spread in the population. The virus itself doesn't care if the host gets killed with the disease because there is such a high turnover of sexual partners that the virus will survive, so-to-speak. One could speculate what is going on here, but I thought that was pretty interesting information.

Jonathan: Well that's already been shown, right? That certain viruses have a sort of intelligence or planning, like toxoplasma.

Gaby: Yeah, that's another one. That's true.

Jonathan: So that wouldn't entirely surprise me.

Tiffany: A lot of these newly reported cases of STDs, some researchers are pointing out that a lot of these cases are more prevalent in gay men or men who have sex with men or bisexual men. They speculate that one of the reasons for this is because the whole AIDS thing has kind of died down where during that time there was a lot of emphasis on safe sex and using condoms and getting tested and since that's kind of died down, a lot of these men don't have that knowledge or fear in the back of their mind so maybe they take more chances than they would have previously. And that can account for some of the higher rates.

Doug: There's a gap that exists. The whole AIDS thing has died down and all these old STDs were kind of considered to be all but gone. "Oh, there's no consequences right now." There's this gap, the golden couple of years before the superbugs started coming in.

Jonathan: I don't mean this to sound gross but it's a giant Petri dish, a community of sexual encounters. It's quite literally a Petri dish so the evolution is going to happen.

Gaby: I might actually be going to the same argument, like a microcosm. For example toxoplasma gondii makes the host behave more riskily. Persons infected with toxoplasma gondii have more risky behaviour. One would speculate that maybe these microbes involved in STDs also have a similar effect, that behaves like a super organism with an intelligence. At least we can see from the data that higher risk populations or populations with the most aggressive STDs, they behave more like that. They're more promiscuous.

Jonathan: That's the thing. The full name is toxoplasma gondii?

Tiffany: Mm-hm.

Jonathan: It starts in mice, right? And then it causes the mice to be attracted to cat urine, and of course then the mice are eaten by the cats and the cats get it. But they have found that the mechanism is that it increases risky behaviour. It lowers inhibition and it stops you from thinking about consequences of your actions essentially, which is pretty fascinating. I know you guys are familiar with this, but there are a lot of theories that people like high-risk takers, adrenalin junkies, have or have had some form of toxoplasma which increases that impulse.

Doug: You mean all those base jumpers and bungee jumpers are actually just walking disease cases?

Jonathan: Yeah. {laughter} I don't know about all of them, {laughter} but I could make a case for some of that.

Tiffany: Yeah, I wonder if they ever actually studied syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia to see if it has that same aspect to it as toxoplasmosis. That's pretty interesting.

Jonathan: Viruses have certain goals...

Gaby: At least we know that syphilis - viruses have certain goals. I want to hear that actually. {laughter}

Jonathan: Oh. There's one for a - forgive me for not remembering all the details on this - but there's a wasp that will catch a virus that then allows it to - I need to look this up. It has something to do with a wasp, like toxoplasma where it becomes a target for a bird then the bird catches the virus and it moves on from there. There's similar things with those fungal infections that kill ants and then grow out of the ant.

Doug: Cordyceps.

Jonathan: Yeah, cordyceps. Goals is kind of a funny word but if you want to put it that way, they do have a group intent to accomplish a certain thing. And that thing may not even be in the species that they're infecting which is pretty fascinating.

Gaby: It behaves like a super organism kind of thing.

Doug: It's weird. Where does the intent lie? Is it the individual bacterium? "You know, our cause here is to infect this species so that it then can infect another species and that will reach our goal." It just kind of seems bizarre to think about it in that way.

Gaby: If you think about it, there are certain pathological bacteria in the gut that will make you crave sugar because it wants to feed on it.

Doug: That's true.

Jonathan: There was one for a caterpillar too that causes it to climb higher up on stocks of grass so that it can be eaten by goats and then it passes through the goat's system for a certain reason. Again, I wish I had details on this stuff. I didn't think to look this up before the show. It is fascinating to think in terms of STDs, what might they be trying to do. Of course with the caveat how do we interpret intelligence. It's more like this is what that organism is meant to do and then to us it seems like that's what it wants to do.

Doug: Okay, hold on. I came into this thinking "Yeah, if there's been an increase in promiscuity and that's led to a greater spread of these diseases" but we may be saying that maybe the spread of the diseases has led to the promiscuity?

Jonathan: Hey man that could be it actually.

Tiffany: I think that's one theory.

Doug: It's pretty out there.

Jonathan: At least it's a valid hypothesis.

Gaby: Yes.

Elliot: But then the question becomes - sorry, I've got a lag as well. I was going to say "What was it that predisposed the humans to being susceptible to contracting these diseases?" So let's work from the very speculative assumption that perhaps these organisms can enter the body and then direct our behaviour so that they can proliferate. But then if you're going to take that into consideration, then what is it that allows the human body to be colonized by these things? And what are the natural defences against such things?

So is there a correlation between the decline of the immune system, the decline of the overall health of the individual, which is what we've seen in the past 60 years or so, and is that correlated with the fact that suddenly all these STDs seem to be going up through the roof? Is it the long-term exposure to all of this toxicity and everything that comes with that, combined with all of this psychological stress and all of these factors combined, does that make us more susceptible to allowing these things to enter and then take control of our behaviour?

Gaby: I think it could be a factor but I think the more important role is the promiscuity of the culture. From an evolutionary perspective, a microbe will have a greater chance of spreading when there are promiscuous relationships and multiple partners. So they can mutate to be more aggressive because they don't have to care whether the host will die soon. It doesn't matter because by then it was have been transmitted to a new host so the former host can die. It doesn't matter because they have seen in conservative cultures or there where are one, two or three partners at the most in the entire lifetime of a host, the organism behaves in more subtle ways. It actually promotes the development of a chronic disease. That is speculated to be the role even in certain types of cancers or just chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease which have a component of some of these microbes, like chlamydia at least.

So that was the hypothesis of Paul Ewald in Plague Time. He used the example of where there is a lot of multiple partners per lifetime in a host, yes, the virus or the microbe will just mutate and behave aggressively because it doesn't matter of the host dies.

Tiffany: Well that brings up another question; how do we define promiscuity?

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: Most people do not give an accurate accounting of how many people they've slept with in their lifetime. Some people will underestimate in order to make themselves look better. Some people will overestimate in order to make themselves look better. But what exactly is promiscuity and how many partners is too many partners?

Doug: Over a lifetime?

Tiffany: Yeah. Well more than one once.

Jonathan: Yeah, that's an interesting hypothetical question. Even if you want to tie it back to human emotion, your feelings for people are, or can be, fluid. I'm sure we've all dated somebody in high school that we haven't talked to for 20 years. Things move and change, so I think it's a very interesting question. What is too much? I think it comes down to the attitude towards it. Despite my feelings about alleged promiscuity, I think at least people should be using protection. That would drop a lot of these cases. Or be checking. Obviously that's a really awkward conversation that you don't want to have, but I think people are just being careless. I have to imagine that a lack of protection is the base cause for a lot of this spread.

Doug: Well some of it. But with syphilis, if somebody actually is in the phase where they have lesions, then condoms won't protect you from that. Same thing with herpes actually.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Jonathan: Is that transferrable through surface contact...

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: Like let's say you were to just touch someone's skin, or does it have to get into your system, into a wound?

Doug: No, if you come into contact with one of the sores you can get it, with syphilis anyway.

Tiffany: Herpes too.

Doug: With HPV actually, if somebody has a throat infected with HPV you can get it from kissing. Protection works to a certain extent, for sure, but it's also not foolproof. So I think it does come back to the promiscuity. Getting back to Tiffany's question, I'm going to go and just say four. {laughter}

Gaby: Apparently there was a survey and people were saying that 14 is the limit, the best sexual partners for a woman and 15 for a man and any more than that and people might think you are too promiscuous.

Tiffany: But they also said that two or three was too few. {laughter} I can't really trust what these people say.

Doug: It's a good indication of the way the populations is thinking. "Yeah, my cut-off is 14!" It's like "Whoa!"

Gaby: Yeah, that's too much. Actually when I was in medical school in Costa Rica, in Costa Rica there was a huge problem with papilloma virus, cervix cancer, woman's cancer basically. So in our medical history we were forced to take the number of sexual partners in a lifetime for each patient. Fifteen was "red alert! red alert!!" But what shocked me in preparation for this show was to read that women don't get papilloma virus cancer nearly as much anymore as men do right now. Basically it's the man that you've got to think about being at risk for this type of cancer.

Tiffany: Cervical cancer usually, if it does strike, and the cases that don't clear up on their own, usually strikes women between ages of 50 and 55.

Doug: And yet they're giving vaccines to what? Infants?

Tiffany: Yeah, basically.

Doug: Or preschoolers or something. Yeah, that's handy!

Tiffany: But there's also the question of maybe somebody had a time in their life when they were more promiscuous than they would have liked to have been and then they settled down. The problem with a lot of these sexually transmitted diseases is that people don't always get symptoms. So they could be spreading stuff and think that they're okay and they're giving it to their partners.

Gaby: I remember the story of a man who was a father now, three kids, he was faithful to his wife, and he was living a good life from all points of view but he has this type of cancer and he got it probably from college. He didn't necessarily have high-risk relationships. There is speculation that men get it, for example, in their throat because they do oral sex and that's the kind of thing that shows up 20 or 30 years down the road and manifests as cancer. Allegedly he says that he didn't even practice that and he had the cancer anyway, so who knows?

Doug: One of the chatters in our chat room says "Compared to some people I know, 14 or 15 actually seems low".

Gaby: Whoa!!

Doug: In this day and age though, that doesn't really surprise me. You figure if somebody's using one of those apps like Tinder or Grindr or whatever and they're doing it even once a week, that's 52 partners in one year. So 14 or 15 they're going to be like "Ppffff! Whatever. I'm way past that."

Jonathan: Yeah. I think there is an attitude right now that sex is lower on the totem pole than dating. If you're dating someone then you're into them and you're looking maybe for a relationship and you're testing the waters, but sex is lower than that. If you have sex you just hooked up, that's all. That's all it is.

Doug: Yeah.

Jonathan: That then opens up the door for that to become much more common.

Tiffany: Well about these HPV throat cancers in men, they say that it has already surpassed the number of HPV-caused cervical cancers in women. So I guess there's loads of men walking around with these oral throat cancers, maybe some of them know about it and some of them don't. But they say if you have 16 or more partners in your lifetime you're at greater risk for getting one of these oral cancers. And then surprisingly, they said if you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day or if you use marijuana that increases the risk but they didn't say how they exactly came up with that. I have no idea. Maybe with marijuana your inhibitions might get lowered and you might have more sexual encounters than you would if you were sober, but I don't know about cigarettes.

Doug: I think it's one of those things...

Tiffany: The mucous membranes.

Doug: ...that correlation doesn't equal causation. It's not like if you smoke 19 a day you're cool but if you have 20 a day, suddenly you're risking throat cancer because of HPV. I think it's more likely that they've just looked at the statistics and found that, for whatever reason, the group that is more likely to contract HPV throat cancer also happens to smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day. It might just be that they tend to be more careless about their health. In this day and age anybody who smokes is deliberately going against what they could do to be healthy. So that's the common perception anyway, so I wouldn't be surprised if the group that has a bunch of bad health habits also would be the smokers and would also maybe smoke marijuana as well. It kind of makes sense if you look at it from that perspective.

Gaby: Still, that's a shocking statistic.

Jonathan: Yeah, it really is.

Tiffany: So apparently 131 million people all over the world get chlamydia every year.

Jonathan: That's a lot.

Doug: And that's the one that can stay hidden, right?

Tiffany: Yeah.

Doug: It can stay hidden for years? Didn't Al Capone die of it even though he hadn't had an outbreak in 30 years or something like that then all of a sudden it came back.

Tiffany: Yeah, there's all these theories about well-known people who allegedly had this or that STD. I'm not really sure how true all those stories are.

Doug: 131 million worldwide, was it?

Tiffany: Mm-hm.

Doug: That's a lot.

Tiffany: And you would think that a lot of these diseases would just be common in sex workers. STDs are rampant in the porn industry, even though they could use condoms and just edit it out. But apparently people don't like seeing condoms in porn so all these sex workers are testing positive for all kinds of STDs and it's just a big old Petri dish, like you said Jonathan.

Doug: I can't imagine. The porn industry kind of turns my stomach a little bit. It's just like a disease factory.

Jonathan: They have that law now - I think it passed - where at porn shoots they have to use condoms for that. I don't know if that's state-by-state but I just heard something about that.

Doug: They just go to a state where it's not necessary, probably.

Jonathan: Right.

Doug: Got to keep up with consumer demand after all.

Tiffany: Well it's not like a state inspector is going to be on the set of every porn shoot, making sure that people comply with the law. {laughter}

Jonathan: Going back to that chlamydia thing, that's an interesting one because I had never in the past heard of chlamydia necessarily being dangerous. That's the one they call the clap and it's curable with certain antibiotics. So maybe that's why people take it less seriously. "Oh, if I get it I can just get rid of it." But the idea that it could stay dormant and affect you more later, that's an interesting prospect.

Gaby: Frankly for me it's very tricky. It can develop new strains very easily and then you have to pick up another type of antibiotic because it's already resistant to the first one used as a treatment. It's very tricky because it cannot give very typical symptoms. A lot of people would think that it's a mild urinary infection maybe. So a lot of people don't get treated and they keep transmitting this stuff. It's a big one.

Doug: So what do you think the end game of all this is? We've got these super STDs rising, running rampantly through the world. Are we looking at the plague that's going to knock out the human race here?

Gaby: Apparently. {laughter} I don't know. The other day I saw an article saying that western men had more infertility than other ethnicities. And yes they were speculating about EMF or cell phones, but what if it's the chlamydia...

Doug: What if it's chlamydia.

Gaby: ...causing infertility.

Tiffany: Those STDs if they're untreated, they can lead to infertility.

Doug: There was one study where they were treating infertile men with antibiotics and so many of them were able to conceive after the antibiotic run.

Gaby: My god!

Jonathan: Or they're just loaded up with bacteria? So then if you take an antibiotic then it works.

Doug: Yeah, apparently, because chlamydia can actually deform the sperm at the DNA level and it will cause infertility in many cases. And the thing is, the difference between men and women is that it can cause infertility in both men and women but apparently in women it'll do more permanent damage whereas in men, if you catch it before it's a certain stage, it's reversible essentially. So they did the study and gave them a bunch of antibiotics and suddenly they were able to conceive so that says something right there.

Tiffany: Actually there was another study that said that women are more susceptible to STDs when they're ovulating, I guess because in the ovulation time their immunity dips to allow the sperm to survive so you can have a viable fetus.

Jonathan: Doug I was just going to say to your question...

Tiffany: About your plague question.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Tiffany: I don't know if it will be just one plague because that's what people think about when they think apocalyptic plague, like it's just one thing. What if it's a combination of a bunch of different diseases that just go berserk all around the same time?

Doug: Yeah.

Gaby: Another sign of the times.

Jonathan: I would tend to think that too, it would be cumulative, a combination of all of these things combined; weakened immune systems, bad food, bad environment.

Doug: Yeah. Promiscuous sex all over the place. I find it interesting that that is where things seem to be getting out of control here, just because there is all the social stigma against it. Christianity has had this dark view of sex for the longest time and it's kind of like coming true. {laughter}

Jonathan: Sure.

Tiffany: Well, you look at the collapse of ancient Rome. Their society was pretty sexually promiscuous before it fell and if the US is just the reincarnation of that, I wouldn't be surprised if this is just a beacon of the coming collapse maybe.

Doug: Yeah. I think Camille Paglia talked about that. She talked about us living in Rome right now, that this is the end, and all these different markers that were there at the fall of that civilization we're currently living with right now, like the rise of transgenderism, rampant promiscuity, all these kinds of things. So maybe we're living in the end times.

Elliot: She made the correlation in one of her interviews, as you just said Doug, with the rise of promiscuity and then the decline of civilization. It kind of makes you wonder is the rise in promiscuity a symptom of an underlying dynamic that occurs that precedes this destruction of whatever civilization, or is it the cause? Is it that this promiscuous sexual behaviour passes around these superbugs and then that kills everyone off? Which way or is it both ways? You know what I mean?

Doug: Yeah. Maybe people subconsciously recognize that things are falling apart and their bodies just signal to have more sex as a stop-gap measure to try and raise the population.

Gaby: Survive? Yeah, that makes sense.

Doug: To survive, yeah. Maybe it's our overarching species intelligence that's telling us "You've got to reproduce because things are about to go south really bad."

Tiffany: But people are more infertile though. Maybe it's peoples' way of not dealing with everything that's crashing down around their ears and they're just seeking out some kind of comfort or some connection with somebody no matter how short-lived it may be. They just want a way to escape and promiscuous sex is one of those ways.

Doug: Well there was one article we read that was talking about how there was a study on college students and they found that the more promiscuous they were, the more likely they were to be depressed. I think they were reading it as "Promiscuity leads to more depression" but again, correlation doesn't equal causation so maybe it is just that people who are more anxious or stressed out or have a sense of this impending whatever, they are led to distract themselves, like you were saying Tiff.

Gaby: By distract themselves, like with an addiction that doesn't necessarily satisfy an intimate relationship, so they are more anxious and depressed afterwards.

Tiffany: This makes me wonder though, are we preaching to the choir because I notice that no one has called in to share their STD experiences. {laughter} And no one has written about it in the chat.

Doug: You were expecting that one?

Tiffany: I know I wasn't.

Doug: Tell us your STD experiences guys. We want to hear.

Tiffany: I don't know anyone personally who engages in these wild behaviours, not necessarily that everyone who catches an STD is a promiscuous person. Maybe they have a partner who might be promiscuous, or whatever reason. Maybe they just didn't know that they had it and they made a mistake one time or whatever. I don't even know where I was going with this. {laughter}

Doug: I'm the same. I don't know at least anybody who's up front about it, that is engaging in this kind of thing. I don't know somebody out there who's going on Tinder or Grindr regularly or something, or a member of a site like that, people who are just using the technology that exists out there to be promiscuous. That might be the kind of thing that somebody wouldn't really publicize because they think there is still somewhat of a stigma against that. I don't know. But obviously the people must be out there because these things are everywhere.

Jonathan: I think a lot of it too is that I don't think any of us live near a really concentrated metro area and I think that would be a higher likelihood, just statistically of that culture being present and the problems that arise from it.

Doug: Well even when I was in Toronto in the circle I ran in it wasn't something that was accepted and talked about. But who knows? I wasn't following people 24/7 so who knows what was going on.

Jonathan: I think that might be one of those things that people don't talk about very much, just like you were saying. Granted it's an issue of personal privacy to talk about your medical history, but it's not surprising that people wouldn't want to share stories about that because it's also got a moral stigma around it too. So I wonder if people in these scene, there's some kind of base thing that keeps you from being really open about it, even if you're in that scene. Granted there are people who are open but it's an interesting phenomena. It's a sneaky avenue for the viruses to sneak into the population. I don't mean to anthropomorphize the virus but it found a way in that not many people talk about.

Gaby: Yeah. Like an intelligent super organism. We may not be in the top of the food chain. {laughter}

Tiffany: So do we think that this could ever die down? What if something happened and the internet went down and no one could ever access Tinder or Grindr or online porn anymore? Would that be what it would take?

Doug: Mass suicide. {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah, maybe.

Doug: Well considering how addictive porn is, I think you would have people freaking out about it. But to answer your question "Is that what it takes for this kind of thing to stop", I don't know. I guess you could always compare the numbers and see when there was a lot of campaigning out there for safe sex when the AIDS thing was really big. Was that actually leading to people being more conservative? I don't know. Certainly in some circles I think it didn't have an effect at all.

Jonathan: No.

Doug: But maybe in the general population it did. So is education the answer to it? I don't know.

Jonathan: I think it's a fear-based impulse in general. I don't agree with fear-mongering but it is more effective than trying to get people to be reasonable. I think kind of like what you said, that it probably didn't have that much of an effect. I think of it as the "just say no" campaign regarding drugs. That turned into a joke and it still is an actual joke that people tell. "Just say no." So I think the abstinence thing might have been similar. I grew up in a Christian community so that was the MO (modus operandi) anyway so I don't really have any experience of what it was like coming out from a public school or anything like that.

Gaby: Apparently there are all types of psychological studies showing that for teenagers who are at high risk of early pregnancy, all the campaigns didn't work or maybe they just made things worse actually. And the one thing that helped was to put teenagers to volunteer in an organization to do something good in their life for other people. That did work. They became more responsible, had less casual sex and just behaved more responsibly by seeing themselves behaving more responsibly.

Jonathan: Personally, even though I may have certain thoughts about it, I think the way to approach this is not morally. It's more about personal health; are you going to take care of your body or not? And that should be the approach. That's just my opinion.

Doug: I think that's a good point.

Tiffany: I don't know if you can take morals out of it completely though because back in "olden days", not that old, maybe our parents and grandparents, people seemed like they just had fewer partners and fewer opportunities to hook up with people casually. A lot of people saw sex before marriage as something that was kind of shameful and now it's pretty much expected. Not that that is the right way to go, but people were a lot more conservative and maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Gaby: That's a good point.

Doug: Yeah, we're living in post-modern times now and I think trying to go against that and impose some sort of morality onto people who think morality is completely subjective and there is no basis to it at all, it would be very, very difficult.

Tiffany: Yeah, you'd be a slut-shaming them otherwise.

Doug: Yeah, exactly.

Tiffany: Slut-shaming.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Gaby: And it will get uglier before it gets better.

Doug: Maybe this is nature's way of getting rid of all the post-modernists. {laughter}

Jonathan: If you want to take the Sodom and Gomorrah approach to this, I think that is part of the case. We're seeing ramifications for an irresponsible culture but we're seeing that in all the other areas too, irresponsible about the environment, irresponsible about our food, about our drugs, about all these things. All of that cumulatively - I'm not standing on the street corner with a signboard on - but it really is very Sodom and Gomorrahy right now.

Tiffany: I don't know, maybe just like with everything else things have to implode and you have to start all over from scratch and then it starts again. A 200,000 year cycle.

Jonathan: We live in interesting times, right?

Tiffany: Isn't that an old Chinese curse?

Gaby: We do.

Tiffany: May you live in interesting times.

Gaby: Yes. Thank you Chinese wisdom.

Jonathan: It worked.

Gaby: It worked. {laughter}

Tiffany: Do we have any words of advice for our listeners or the people who might listen later?

Jonathan: Think twice and wear condoms if you decide to go ahead with it. Or make your partner wear a condom.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Jonathan: That's pretty much what I got. And then just be careful. Don't go out doing it randomly. Try to get to know a person a little bit, make it more meaningful. That would be my advice. Just try not to take it so flippantly.

Gaby: My advice would be that knowledge protects. You can study each sexually transmitted disease and see the horrifying effects it has. That will immune you. {laughter} It's horrifying. It makes my skin jump every time I see the slides, the pictures of secretions, skin lesions. It's like aaahhhh!!!

Jonathan: And I would say too, get tested. If you don't know, then there's a way to know. It can be terrifying. I did it when I was getting older. I'd never had one before. I had had a few partners in my 20's and thought it was time to get tested. That was the most terrifying two weeks of my life, waiting for that result because it was full spectrum. It was like "What am I gonna have?" It turned out fine, but that was a huge step because had I not done that 15 years ago almost now, that whole time I would have been wondering and maybe suffering the deleterious effects of something I had that I didn't know. It really is worth it. In the United States at least, I know if you go to your local health department it's $50. So it's really worth doing that.

Doug: Speaking of testing, they apparently are developing phone apps that have a little plug-in thing and you put saliva, some other sort of excretion into this attachment that comes with it and your phone will be able to tell you whether or not you are positive for a sexually transmitted disease. I looked into it a little more because I just read about it and I thought "That's kind of interesting. Let's see what this is all about." It looks like it's freaking expensive. I can see that maybe some people would value discretion and don't want to go into a clinic. The fact of the matter is clinics are closing all over the US right now which might also be part of the problem. It was something like $200. It only tests for one. Actually I might be wrong about that. Maybe it did test for more than one. Nevertheless it seemed like a very expensive way to go about it. It didn't seem very practical to me. It did seems kind of funny to me that if you're going to go with your Tinder or your Grindr then maybe you ought to pick up this app as well with the attachment and then you've got the whole kit. {laughter}

Jonathan: And while you're at it get one of the portable sobriety kits. {laughter} That's pretty interesting. I could see it. It's almost kind of a weird Idiocracy picture in my mind of people hooking up with other people on their phone and then when they meet, "Oh, let me test you." "Oh, let me test you." "We're good? Alright."

Doug: Yeah, I didn't think about using it that way actually. So there you go. There's the answer.

Jonathan: Yeah, it's all coming down to the phone.

Gaby: And that information goes to the CIA. {laughter}

Doug: Yeah, that's a good question about who's getting that information.

Gaby: You have more discretion at a clinic.

Doug: Exactly.

Jonathan: I absolutely guarantee you that your...

Tiffany: And even if you do test positive you're still going to have to go to a clinic to get treated.

Jonathan: I was just going to say I guarantee that in general people's sexual demographic, number of partners, locations where it happened, those are all data points in either commercial or government databases. I promise! Everything that can be culled is culled.

Doug: Really!

Jonathan: Yeah. It may not be stored for years and years. I don't know. People say different things. Are there really server farms that could hold this much information? We don't need to get into that whole thing but I guarantee that it's being captured and even in just the commercial sector it's able to be analyzed. It's just data and you can buy data.

Doug: So that's probably blackmail material for future politicians. "You apparently were using Tinder three times a week."

Jonathan: Sure. If you had the ability you could quite easily say that somebody used Tinder at this location on this date. On the way from point A to point B they stopped at this gas station and got this brand of condoms or they got two boxes and then at this point they went to this person's house. You can map that all together just from data that's publically available or for sale.

Gaby: Wow!

Doug: Maybe that's what needs to be publicized. Forget the moral part of it. Just get people really paranoid.

Gaby: There's a chatter who has a good point; data input to AIs. Maybe the AIs, artificial intelligence, will get rid of us because we're totally irresponsible or worse. {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah, "These humans are not logical."

Doug: They'll maximize the disease spreading. "We know this person's infected so let's send them to this person and then to that person."

Jonathan: This is a little funny. So if you get a DUI, in a lot of states when you go to make an attempt to drive again you have to have a meter in your car that will prevent the car from being turned on if you register a certain alcohol level on your breath, so you have to blow into this thing to turn the car off. Well the insurance company has already used that information to say whether they're going to raise or lower your policies based on how risky your behaviour is. I could totally see this coming into play with that too. If there's some sort of edge to the testing app that that would tie into your insurance records so it would affect it that way too. Then it would affect you even being able to be treated. You go to the doctor and they say "Whoops, sorry! Your policy doesn't cover this."

Doug: Yeah. Even people using those apps for hooking up too. That could be sent to your health insurance company and it's like "You're participating in high-risk behaviour so you're not going get coverage."

Jonathan: What a crazy world. Well, we are coming up on our time. Let's go to Zoya's pet health segment for today and maybe we can brighten things up a little bit and come back and wrap up after.

Tiffany: I don't picture octopuses as bright, but apparently it's funny and interesting facts about octopi.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. My name is Zoya and today I'm going to share with you some interesting facts about octopuses. They're intelligent, creative and versatile. I'm sure that you've heard things about octopuses before but I'm willing to bet that the following recording is going to amaze you and also probably cause a couple of good belly laughs. Well enjoy.

Ze Frank: Here we will explore true facts about the octopus. Deep in the depths of the ocean lives a marvelous creature sometimes referred to as the floppy, floppy spider of the sea. But it's true name comes from a Greek word meaning eight-footed because it has eight arms.

There are two major suborders of octopuses, the serena and inserena. The serena octopuses look a bit like an alien got freaky with a weather balloon. They have two little fins, a small internal shell and lots of little cilia next to their suckers. The other suborder which we will be looking at today, are the inserena - no internal shell, although some do try to fake it, and no fins but 100% amazing.

Many of you will know the amazing color and texture changing capabilities of the octopus as well as its ability to fart ink at a moment's notice, evolution at its finest. However perhaps the most remarkable feature of the octopus is its intelligence. They are the most intelligent of all of the invertebrates, technically not tons of competition there. Clams are stupid. I'm sorry I said it, but they are dumb as hell.

What is amazing is that while octopuses can learn and remember complex tasks like opening child-proof jars and moving through mazes, they are using an intelligence that has evolved very differently than our own. Unlike our intelligence which is mainly centralized in our head hole, the octopus has distributed intelligence. Three-fifths of all of its neurons are located in its arms. In a way, each of its arms actually has a mind of its own which is amazing, unless after a while you found out that one of your arms was an asshole. That would suck.

These arms are so capable that even when they are severed they will continue to search for and capture food and then try to bring that food back to a non-existent mouth hole. Some octopuses will actually remove one of their own arms when threatened and let it wriggle away to confuse the hell out of predators. Data point of one but it would confuse the hell out of me. Each arm of the octopus is equipped with over 250 suction cups, each one with the ability to rotate and grasp independently. Not only are they grabby, grabby, but the suction cups contain sensory receptors which allow it to taste and smell what it touches. This is an ability I'm glad I don't have.

It is widely known that the interstingness of an animal is proportional to how difficult it is to figure out where its butthole is. The octopus is therefore very interesting because its mouth is exactly where I thought it's butt should be. I'll be honest with you; I still don't really know where it is but my search history does contain the phrase "picture of an octopus's butt".

Inside the octopus's mouth is a beak, the only hard part of the inserena body, meaning that the octopus can squeeze through any hole larger than its beak. The tentacles guide food towards the beak where venomous saliva incapacitates prey before the horror begins. I told you, clams are stupid.

When it comes to moving, the octopus has a variety of options. It can crawl or use a water jet called a siphon or it can do this, which is my favourite. Some scientists have argued that two of its arms should be characterized as legs. I wonder why. They can walk!

Octopuses can even move on land quite effectively. Yes, they get a little mooshy on land, but don't judge. It's like reverse shrinkage. Imagine what they think when we skinny-dip. "What happened to your little arm?" That's what they say.

Although the octopus's eight arms may seem identical, one of the male's arms is actually a hectocotylus which functions like a penis. Therefore shaking hands with a male octopus is sort of like playing Russian roulette, but instead of dying you risk your hand getting pregnant.

The hectocotylus is used to transfer spermatophores to the female either by inserting it into a hole in her mantle or by tearing it off and presenting it to the female for later use. To understand this, imagine if you were on a date and your date reached down and - well, that is how an octopus do. To the octopus, human sex looks really, really boring, like we're just saying hello to each other because when they get it on, it can get crazy. When the female has fertilized her eggs she retreats to an underwater crevice and attaches her eggs to the roof. She will stay with them, gently blowing fresh water over them, protecting them as she slowly starves to death. Basically, everything they do is hard core.

When her job is done she is gone but the thousands of little babies emerge, floating, just beautiful, sort of like the ending of Charlotte's Web except underwater. And without the farm animals too. They would all drown. They would die. The dancing pig wouldn't last a second really, sort of the babies interspersed with these dead and rotting animals being eaten by fish. It's a different story, less appropriate for children. The duck would do okay but one floating duck does not a children's book make.

Just remember, if you're writing a children's book, one animal can die, not all of them. Only a clam would write that sort of crap and they're dumb as hell.

Jonathan: That was great.

Tiffany: It was fun!

Gaby: That was awesome!

Jonathan: I'm pretty sure you can't get pregnant through your hand dude.

Gaby: Oh good!

Tiffany: Were those some chlamydia-free goats? {laughter}

Jonathan: Yeah they were.

Doug: That was good.

Gaby: They sounded pure and innocent.

Jonathan: Maybe we can get a little more of that. Our chatters are requesting more of those.

Doug: More of that guy's videos.

Jonathan: It's like "He was funny, you guys suck." {laughter} I'm kidding. Alright, that is our show for today. Thank you very much for listening, to our chat participants and like we said, just keep an eye on this and be careful out there. It's a rough world. We'll be back next week. Make sure to tune in to the SOTT Radio Show on Sunday at noon eastern time, radio.sott.net.

Tiffany: Bye-bye everyone.

All: Good-byes.