Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - HIV and AIDS - continue to emerge as the commonly occurring diseases in most of the epidemic cases present in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report (CDC, 2000), this crux relates to the obvious practice of unsafe sex by most individuals with an alarming record of young adults indulging in unsafe sex. The study manipulates information about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and these are the principal subjects in the course of this research. It should ensure that these research findings support either the variables or the personal initiative. The study will utilize the experimental approach design as its methodology. It will try and survey a group of already sexually active students or those in serious relationships. Despite the initiative method of using condoms, the number of people infected with sexually transmitted diseases continues to increase steadily, leading to the urgent need to incorporate other better innovative techniques of advocating safe sex such as imagery. This paper aims to analyze the success of the condom’s use initiative method in connection to preventing sexually transmitted diseases among the sexually active individuals and promoting safer sex through the use of imaginative thinking.
According to the reports by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) prevail among college students in the United States. This accounts for the huge percentage of occurring epidemics. Reviewing the CDC presentation during the National Prevention Conference on STDs, the present data can be used to calculate the rate of infection in the existing population. It designates a proportionate number of one infected woman for every four females aged between 14 and 19 (CDC, 2000). The underlying reason for the steadily growing rate of STDs transmission is explained by the increased sexual activity with multiple partners and without the regular condom use among most of the college students. This leads to widening the gap of people who fall under the risk of infection.
In an effort to prevent further spread of STDs and advocate safer sex among students at the college level, researchers continue to investigate different cases and have come with new, innovative techniques that might help - imagery. The choice for this method is based on its past success in behavior motivation with the view that some of its techniques might make a significant contribution in this initiative of advocating safer sex. The success of this method, applied through mental imagery, has undergone extensive examination by psychology professionals in order to find out the reliability of the process and the efficiency of the outcomes observed. Results met by clinical and cognitive psychologists explain that the success of motivating a change in behavioral patterns begins from the first step of process imagination before the behavioral outcome. For instance, the partner, initiating the use of condom during sex, would focus on imagining the process of using the condom before thinking of the outcome after using it (which is not getting infected with any STD) (Pham & Taylor, 1997). An additional example of the success rate of imagery use applied in a case study depicts the house owners who imagined the entertaining process of watching television, and later on they ended up making up their minds on purchasing one. This is intended to support the thought that utilization of imagery in motivating change in behavior has significant implications and lasting solutions.
However, every technique has its own drawbacks. For example, the results of imagery might be unsuccessful if the outcome is hard to envision. A practical experiment was carried out on the patients’ psychology. It focused on making participants imagine being infected with an extremely chronic disease and exhibiting the likely symptoms. The results pointed out that it was rather difficult for them to imagine the symptoms of the disease and the likely hood of contracting it. Therefore, this finding supports the limitations of imagery use. The more complicated it is to picture out a scenario in mind the lesser the impact on the behavioral motivation. This means that for imagery to work it would be easier to imagine a more likely and familiar outcome than a farfetched scenario. This case study, based on use of imagery in imagining the contraction and symptoms of a chronic disease, relates positively to the efforts underway in preventing STDs. In an effort to find lasting preventive solutions, especially for HIV, most researchers have thrown all their efforts into this area while some of them have practically tried out the use of imagery in enhancing their participants’ susceptibility to HIV’ infections (DePalma et al. 1996). Using some of the health models, perception carries much weight in strategizing the actions to prevent the spread of HIV. According to DePalma (1996), the use of this technique of imagining the symptoms and manipulation of the sexually transmitted diseases’ labels reduced the patients’ infection susceptibility to HIV immensely.
If to consider the participants of the previous case, who imagined getting symptoms which could easily be cured, they were reported to be more susceptible to being infected by such a disease. This practically applies in this study especially on female participants. Imagining the less harsh symptoms of HIV, that can are easily treatable, reduces their susceptibility perception to getting infected, which is the positive effect of imagery utilization in this research. However, such women might still fall victims of susceptibility to infection because their perception of the outcome becomes rather clouded and centers on the easily imagined scenario. On the contrary, the male participants under the influence of the imagery technique recorded increased perceptions to infection susceptibility when imagining easily curable symptoms than the adverse symptoms of HIV at any stage. Hence, these deductive findings contribute valuable research information in the undeterred process of formulating STDs preventive measures and motivating behavioral change for safer sex using imagery. In this case, participants showed more susceptibility to other symptomatic diseases than HIV. The same case currently conducted a survey among young adults. Their perception discriminates on the importance of preventing STDs through safe sex more than other health related diseases. Deductively, it then seems that the use of imagery in HIV prevention is not the best remedial strategy in motivating behavioral changes in order to advocate safer sex (DePalma et al. 1996).
Additionally, the CDC claims that STDs prevalence among college students is significantly high and a common occurrence rather than HIV. Therefore, the application of imagery might become even more useful in preventing STDs among these young adult groups than HIV prevention. But, in the end, the outcome is aimed at reducing HIV infection cases. This imagination of negative outcomes, linked with unsafe sex, strategy promotes behavioral change and safer sex through the use of condoms (CDC, 1995). An experimental case, supporting the use of condoms in the safer sex promotion, saw participants apply imagery to imagine their experiences, and the outcomes of being already infected with AIDS with a contradicting imagination of how would one avoid these incidents in future. The same participants reported back months later of a remarkable behavioral change and regular practice of safer sex and with a lower number of partners. The incorporation of knowledge acquired through these case findings can be utilized in supporting the efforts of researchers trying to prevent STDs, both through safer sex promotion as well as by expanding the knowledge of HIV prevention in the future. Furthermore, this perspective of imaginative thinking likely increases the influence towards safer sex behavioral change which is an equally vital factor in advocating and promoting safer sex (Bandura, 1994).
Methodology and Hypothesis of the Research
This research will utilize the experimental approach in finding out the effectiveness of the condoms’ use initiative in promoting safer sex. This methodological technique has already attained approval from the Institutional Review Board of the university. The study of this research will be based on the psychology of undergraduate students who took part in the extra course credit. A random sampling method of determining the qualified participants for research will involve limiting the sample group to the age bracket of 18-25. The participants picked must have a sexually active life or commitment in relationships for over a six-month period. The methodology administration design will involve the factoring out of four variables - two participants representing the disease types and other two initiating the use of condoms (on them or a partner). Since the goal of this study is to apply imaginative thinking in a situation to motivate positive change in safer sex behavior, the participants will have to picture themselves as the first party involved in a sexual encounter and then record their experience regarding their imagination and outcome on paper. According to the ethical guideline for the experiment technique, the participants must first complete a consent form regarding what the experiment entails, the part they play in the research and the purpose of the experiments’ outcome. In order to ensure they clearly comprehend the background of the investigation and its purpose, they will each acquire a booklet explaining the course of research in detail. The experiment will entail the participants reading and applying imaginative thinking in one of four selected scenarios mentioned below in the text.
The Study Scenarios for maginative thinking and their respective variables.
- Students at the college level are increasingly becoming aware of the risks involved with STDs and HIV and many of them take preventive measures by practicing safe sex; you have become concerned of your health as well.
- You specifically desire to protect yourself from HIV and STDs and, therefore, you want to share this desire and concern with your partner the next time you indulge in sex.
- You think of initiating the use of a condom (on your partner or you) the next time you have a sexual intercourse.
- Now that you are aware of the health risks and concerns regarding HIV and AIDS both you and your partner are careful and may suggest this strategy in improving intimacy between the two of you and promoting safer sex.
The results of this experiment will undergo analysis through statistical conversions and manipulations to deduce the vulnerability scale of contracting HIV and STDs and individual intention in relation to practicing safe sex. The reliability of this statistical assessment will be established in relation to previous studies.
This study is based on the application of imagery using various hypotheses. The research presumed the success of imaginative thinking and involved the imaginative process of indulging in behavior related to safe sex. Additionally, it would be more appropriate if the participants focused their views on the common concerns of STDs infection rather than HIV. Furthermore, participants would have the greatest interest in practicing safe sex if they imagined the outcome and the initiative process of them negotiating the use of condoms with their partners. Lastly, the research hypothesized less effectiveness if the participants focused on HIV rather than the common STDS or pictured their partner negotiating for condom use in promoting safer sex.
STDs prevalence is still increasing among most college students. Thus, this research will aid in contributing knowledge of imagery use in efforts to prevent STDs. However, there is need for further research regarding the individual intentions towards safer sex, and the possible enhanced techniques for preventing STDs and promoting behavioral change for safer sex.