Last week pop music diva and media sensation, Lady Gaga, made a startling statement while in London for the promotion of her own MAC Viva Glam Gaga lipstick that raises money for HIV/AIDS and donates every dollar of its sales to the cause. She remarked, "I'm single right now and I've chosen to be single because I don't have the time to get to know anybody. So it's okay not to have sex, it's okay to get to know people. I'm celibate, celibacy's fine."
Lady Gaga claimed that a big part of the reason she was sending the celibacy message was because of the steady rise in the rate of HIV infection among women worldwide, which has grown while the overall rate among men has continued to decline. She added that the rate of infection worldwide is higher than ever for women in her particular demographic of women aged 17-24. Wow. I couldn't believe I was hearing such a positive message to young fans from a young star in a wildly influential position to them. Hat's off to Gaga.
This month I have been a spokesperson for early detection of Oral Cancer- "the cancer you can catch." The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) virus, an epidemically sexually transmitted infection in the United States, has become the largest growing risk factor for oral cancer in the very same demographic that Lady Gaga was referring to. Transmitted by oral sex, HPV, the same virus responsible for the majority of cervical cancers, is becoming responsible for oral cancer in young people with no other risk factors. In addition, the HPV virus shares an insidious relationship with its deadly "cousin," the HIV virus. People living with HIV are much more at risk for HPV complications, and women, in particular, living with HIV tend to have multiple types of HPV infection.
As a health care professional and the father of three children now between the ages of 17-25, I am often on the "educational pulpit" preaching across a generational gap that doesn't always get the strongest reception. So I felt a debt of gratitude to the young artist who, while shooting to stardom, has embraced a higher sense of responsibility to her idolizing young fans. In the same interview Lady Gaga stated, "When you're in the public eye, you're a role model whether you want to be or not. And I want to be." She added, "I'm not one of those self-obsessed artists who don't care about their fans. It's not just about the music."
While much has been reported on the unconventional image of this young singer, I believe this time Lady Gaga has hit the perfect note. She said, "Something I do want to celebrate with my fans is that it's okay to be whomever it is that you want to be. You don't have to have sex to feel good about yourself, and if you're not ready, don't do it ... It's cooler to be strong and independent." That's one of the best health messages, on many levels, that I have heard in a long time. Thank you, thank you Lady Gaga!
Dr. Gerry Curatola is a renowned aesthetic dentist and pioneer in the emerging field of rejuvenation dentistry, which improves patients' overall health and appearance by integrating total wellness with cutting edge oral care and restorative procedures. In addition to his private practice, research, and work as a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU College of Dentistry, he is an internationally sought after speaker, author and expert who has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. For more information, go to rejuvenationdentistry.com.