STD's & You: What You Need to Know
By Stephanie Lynn, age 23, Massachusetts
A recent study by the CDC reports that 26% of teenage girls age 14-19 have at least one sexually transmitted disease. That's 1 in 4. For African-American girls, the number is even scarier - about 50% have one of four common STD's.
"The teens were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and genital herpes, 2 percent." (Associated Press)
Roughly half of teenage girls do not engage in sexual activity, making the stat even more frightening for those who do - 40% of all sexually active teenage girls have one or more STDs. Statistically speaking, if you were to gather up four of your sexually active girl crew, two of the five of you would be infected.
What do you do?Well, first, if you are not presently sexually active, good for you!! As plans go, abstinence is cool, in spite of the media and teen voices screaming, "What's wrong with you, girl?" Life has enough heartaches without worrying about an STD or unwanted pregnancy. Abstinence in your teen years is the single best plan for avoiding an STD and reaching your life goals.
Talk with your doctor.
SDM site model Roxi
Okay, if you're sexually active, and if you're not already having annual checkups that include honest conversation on this subject, I recommend that you immediately see your doctor. And by "see" I mean "talk to" in depth. Cassondra Lynn wrote a great article in the January issue ('Sup Doc?). And remember, it's never too late to be smart, to make smart choices for your future. If you're not pregnant and your doctor says you do not have an STD, why not make the choice that insures you never will?
Finally, if you're insistent on continuing to be sexually active as a teenager, then by all means be smart about it. It's not the purpose of this article to educate you on the specifics of protected vs. unprotected sex. But we all know where that information is. And we know that just knowing about it isn't enough.
Above all, don't think: ok, it may happen to others, but not to me ... 40% IS NOT "OTHER PEOPLE"!!