Does your teen have an STD? The stats continue to worsen.

Last night, while posting my "hellos" on Facebook, I noticed someone I knew is dating someone I KNOW has an STD. Since I know both people, the alarms in my head warned me that drama could ensue. Ignoring the worry I could lose a friend, I picked up the phone. After all, this young lady could end up with an STD and I had the power to speak up. And so I did. The two involved, just out of their teen years, are like many young people today. You'd never suspect an STD, but that's what 1 in 4 have. I encourage you to read my blog on the "aging silver lining" discussing how the benefit to being old and married could be avoiding the rapid spread of STD's throughout the population.

Sex Education is a hot topic. What do we teach? How do we prevent teen pregnancies? How do we make sure kids are protected? All these are great questions to ask. But the most profound and possibly the most necessary question should be, "could my teenager have an STD"? This question could clue parents into a lot. One major benefit of asking that question is finding out if your teen is already sexually active at all. Sex Education really does begin at home. There's only so much a school or clinic can do. The other benefit of asking is taking action to ensure that your teen is being tested, routinely. Early detection helps when it comes to some curable infections and could prevent spreading the incurable infections further. Although it's a parent's worst nightmare, knowing is better than not in this case.

If you have a teenager, you should check out the SADD website. They post STD stats with sources that will shock and perhaps scare you a bit. As they should. According to a recent Raw Story article, teenagers use more condoms than Baby Boomers. It was a story that was supposed to be positive about the sexual habits of younger people. It's not really positive at all, the STD rates continue to rise.  I truly believe teenagers lie about condom usage. I believe they use less than they let on. Perhaps as a way to sound more responsible or just denial. You know what doesn't lie? The rates at which these kids are contracting infections. There are still 1 in 4 teenage girls who have an STD. That's pretty serious. If you had a one in four chance of developing a scar on your hand from touching a flower, would you risk your hand to touch the flower? Your teenager is risking more than that. Some "curable" diseases can increase your daughter's risk for cancer or infertility. Fifty percent of all new HIV cases will be someone under 25. Essentially ending the teenager's life before it has begun.

There's a lot of polarized solutions to what needs to be done. On one side, it's "safe sex" and on the other, "abstinence". While it is unrealistic to say that most teens will be abstinent, less sex overall will no doubt be less opportunities to spread disease. Neither side wants to "give" any ground and meanwhile, the young suffer from the bitter debate. If we strip out the controversy, more teens need access to condoms. Well, actually, free condoms since CVS doesn't card you to buy a pack of Trojans. ALSO, on the flip side, we need the adolescent population to have less sex overall. More kids need to choose abstinence at least until they are old enough to be responsible. More kids need to be more concerned with WHO they are having sex with and whether or not the risk is worth it.

It doesn't make sense for this issue to be controlled by the ultra liberal and the ultra conservative to be controlling the discussions. The most realistic answer lies between the two extremes anyway. Furthermore, while everyone is so concerned with teen pregnancy (not that it's NOT as important, it is) they've lost sight with the STD factor. Last time I checked, pregnancies were 9 months or less, still bad for young teens, but not nearly as bad as HIV. So, hooray, teens are having less babies. Boo, they're still getting diseases at faster and more alarming rates.

I don't know about you, but I think it's time we campaign for teens to focus on health and safety, not sex and pregnancy. Rather than say abstinence or promiscuity, we should be saying as little as possible, if at all.



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