Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all last week I’m sure you heard that last week a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that in the U.S, 1 in 4 teen girls has a Sexually Transmitted Disease(STD). The study is based on 839 sexually active teens age 14-19 but it only covered four common diseases such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis, the Human Papiloma Virus(HPV) and herpes. Think about the percentage that means out of four teenage friends one of them probably either has an STD or will be treated for one.
It’s especially important to pay attention since most girls’ sexual activities in high school follow into college where often the availability and frequency of sexual activity increases. Many of these STDs can have serious long term affects like infertility issues or cause cervical cancer/genital warts in the case of HPV. Their are several reasons why teens are at risk which include inaccurate information about sex, a feeling of being invincible because their young and failure to use protection.
Teens are starting to engage in sexual activities earlier than ever before and while many experts and school officials want to push abstinence the truth is protection is the realistic idea to prevent infection. Hopefully this stunning study can be used to educate teens about their choices in sexual relationships. The study also revealed a probe into the long going issue of racial disparities in health care when it showed that 50% of African American teen girls in the study compared to 20% of White teen girls had an STD. The reasons for those differences they claim is not because of an increase in riskier behavior but due to access to health care and poverty which is an issue in some black communities.
The reality is when you make decisions you have to think of the consequences. As soon a girl becomes sexually active they should go see a gynecologist regularly because even girls in the study who had only have one partner, 20% of them were infected!
Unfortunately, the study did not focus on teenage boys, which hopefully it will in the future. With 3 million teenage girls with STDs in the U.S there obviously is around a similar number of young men who also are affected since they are the ones these young women are having sex with. I think too often the burden of sexual responsibility and blame goes onto females and yes every female should protect themselves, but releasing a study of a similar nature letting males known their rate for STDs would place the responsibility and wake up call for both teenage girls and boys.