Teen Girls, Ignorance, and Sexually Transmitted Disease
In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed a high level of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among sexually active, urban teenage girls. On their first clinic visit, 40% were infected with some STD, yet 87% of these had no symptoms. Predictably, chlamydia was the most common, followed by herpes simplex virus and gonorrhea. These figures clearly point to the benefits of STD screening for sexually active teens. (For details, see The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Nov '99.)
In a parallel vein, a new Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that teens need reliable information about preventing pregnancy and STDs. In their survey, 51% said they wouldn't know where to get an STD test, and 46% didn't know about obtaining birth control pills. (For details, see the Kaiser web site at http://www.KFF.org)
Knowledge equals empowerment in most areas of our lives. For teens, knowledge of sexual matters could enable them to make safer choices, or failing that, at least know how to get assistance when their poorer choices go awry.