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STD infection rate on the rise

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editorial cartoon by Matt Hill

editorial cartoon by Matt Hill

During the sexually transmitted disease prevention conference in Chicago on March 11, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an alarming finding.

The CDC conducted a study of 838 girls and found that at least one in four teenage girls have a sexually transmitted disease.

The girls were screened for four different STD’s, including the human papilloma virus, known as HPV, the most common STD.

Twenty-six percent were found to have an STD, which translates to about 3.2 million women between the ages 14 to 19.

More alarming was their discovery that about 16 percent of the women tested had more than one infection.

If broken down demographically, the study showed Black teens have a larger percentage infected with an STD.

Regardless of the breakdown, the fact that a quarter of teenage girls have an STD should be enough to get people thinking about what should be done.

Why is this ratio so high? There are a number of possible reasons, but an important part is the abstinence-only sexual education being given in American schools.

Sure not having sex is the best way to protect a teenager from getting an STD, but in today’s world it is not effective enough.

On the “George Lopez” show he was worried about his daughter getting involved with boys. So he decided to sit her at the kitchen table and show her graphic images of Chlamydia and genital warts.

Does this study show this is how far our country is going to have to go to protect our youth?

The numbers also show that only one third of young women who undergo pregnancy tests or acquire emergency contraceptives are screened for STD’s.

Here is a perfect chance to assist in stopping the spread of disease so why is the opportunity being missed?

Dr. Margaret Blythe, an adolescent medicine specialist from the Indiana University School of Medicine, stated in an Associated Press article that doctors do not offer STD screenings because this would include discussing it with teens and because the parents would have to be informed of the screening results.

So what is left to offer all of these young women? People are always told don’t be just another statistic.

But when the odds are against you, how do we keep ourselves from becoming another statistic? The spread of STD’s first starts with the responsibility of the parents.

There are commercials all over television these days calling out to parents to talk to their children about drugs, sex and violence.

Sure the educational system maybe failing at properly notifying our youth on the effect of STD’s, but the parents have the ultimate responsibility of teaching their children.

Chlamydia, found in four percent of the study group, shows no symptoms and is known to lead to infertility. Genital warts, affecting two percent of the study group, often has no symptoms and cannot be cured.

HPV, found in an overwhelming 18 percent of the study group, also often has no symptoms and can cause cervical cancer.

These are the facts. This is what all young women aged 14-26 years old are up against, statistics that prove we are all at risk.

You are not unstoppable or invulnerable. STD’s are real and they are affecting more than 3 million American women.

This isn’t only a woman’s problem, however. It must be stressed that men are just as vulnerable to becoming infected as women.

Although the study did not include men within the same age group, it does not mean that they are in the clear. Each party involved should take the necessary precautions when having sex.

We all need to take the time to educate ourselves so that we do not fall prey to a one in four statistic of contracting an STD.

Parents need to stop shying away from the subject and really talk to their children and the educational system needs to relinquish itself from teaching abstinence-only sex education and offer all the facts.

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