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STD myths arise from "foam parties"

By Josh Law
On April 20, 2010

Foam parties are thrown on a daily basis at college campuses and nightclubs across the United States.

These parties on film can be dated back to "A Rhapsody in Black and Blue" (1936), in which Louis Armstrong danced around and played his trumpet in a room filled with foam.
The topic of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or other illness from this kind of party has recently caused a lot of discussion.

Although research has yielded no documented case of someone actually contracting an STD in this manner, blog and chat sites all over the Internet provide examples of people who claim to have caught these diseases at foam parties.

Researchers on this topic disagree.

According to www.health.arizona.edu: "If you're having sexual contact in the bubbles with an infected person, then yes, you could get a sexually transmitted infection. If you're not having sexual contact but are worried that the foam could migrate from one person to another, carrying an STI, it's nearly impossible."

Not everyone has bought into this myth at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

"I believe you have more of a chance of getting an STD from ‘messing around' with the people at the foam party than from the foam itself after someone infected was in it," junior accounting major Courtney Blaske said.

Other issues have arisen from attending foam parties. There have been reports of partygoers developing severe allergic skin or eye reactions after attending. This is largely due to incorrect use of dish soap instead of non-irritating foam in the foam generating machines.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine Web site, "Six young men [were] presented with various degrees of keratoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the cornea) due to alkaline chemical burns. They had received these injuries during an evening of dancing on a dance floor covered with several feet of foam…"

There have also been a large number of reports of people developing sore throats, and in some cases strep throat, after attending a party. Currently, there is no data that suggests the cause is from the foam party itself.

In addition to health concerns, electrocution from equipment not properly grounded, falling down and sustaining injury, and groping are all mishaps that can occur at foam parties.

One A&M-Commerce student thinks party goers should be informed of the risks at a foam party.

"I believe there should be some kind of a sign on the door telling you all of the risks," junior psychology major Alex Sandlin said. "It is the same thing as smoking to me, because if you know the risks, you can still do what you want, you are just more informed."


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