About AIDS

UT-HSC Teen Chlamydia Picture Not Encouraging

Each year, HIV/STD prevention professionals hope to see continued improvement in disease rates, especially among youth. Nationally for the past decade, that has generally been the case. However, even with that backdrop, recent studies nearby are not encouraging.

Researchers from the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio studied 100 adolescents, aged 12 to 17, in juvenile detention, checking for chlamydia. Almost 9% of boys and more than 22% of girls were infected. The study group, infected or not, were highly sexually active youths - 92% - with an average of 7 partners.

The high rate of chlamydia is alarming enough by itself, but at least that bacterial infection can be treated. More worrisome is that their risky behaviors can also lead to incurable HIV and hepatitis C infection, as well as gonorrhea, hep A & B, syphilis, and pregnancy.

It's clear that adolescents, especially those incarcerated, need better healthcare and prevention education. And yet, the trend in sex education for youth is abstinence-only, overlooking the fact that many have already left that admirable goal behind and failing to deliver any useful information about other ways to prevent infection, identify disease, or locate testing and treatment. In such an environment, continued infection with chlamydia and other diseases will only continue.

(For details see Clinical Pediatrics,Vol. 39, No. 9, P. 521; Kelly,

Patricia J.; et al)

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