With so much information and treatment for STDs available, one would assume that they’d be wiped out, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
In fact, the number of STD cases has been on the rise. For some, education and condoms aren’t the answer, as they’re more focused on abstinence. While this may be the only way NOT to get an STD, it’s not the realistic way to do it.
No matter what parents or pastors have to say, teenagers are going to have sex and with more than one person likely. And sometimes, a person who only had one sexual experience could be diagnosed with an STD.
According to Cherokee County Health Department officials in Oklahoma, state statistics show that there’s been a rise in the number of STDs – syphilis especially.
Based on the 2016 information, there were 85 cases of hepatitis C, 264 cases of both primary and secondary syphilis, 7,574 cases of gonorrhea and over 21,000 chlamydia cases. Still, the most serious of all STDs is HPV or human papillomavirus. This STD can cause genital warts and cervical and other kinds of cancer in women. Men are also susceptible to the disease and could be diagnosed with HPV-related cancer.
Thankfully, parents can protect their kids with HPV vaccine, but only if the parents understand that their children will have sex at some point in time. Parents who fail to provide their teenagers with information about STDs actually encourage these kids to engage in sexual behavior or give them permission to have sex.
This lack of “care” can lead to a life-or-death situation. For example, HIV/AIDS is still running rampant. While the infected have better treatment options and can live a life close to normal, they still are infected with the virus. In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 people in Oklahoma with the disease.
Health officials don’t like making judgments calls for the rise in STDs, but rationale suggests a lack of information, tools and carelessness as the mitigating factors. After all, many parents are opposed to public schools offering sex education under the guise that parents should be responsible for this. While there is truth behind that, most parents are afraid to talk with their kids – fearing their kids are already having sex.
While the answer to the problem isn’t easy, it’s simple. Talking to kids about sex and sex-related diseases is the surefire way to stem the chances of them having unprotected sex. While encouraging them to be abstinence is a good thing, it should never be the end all, be all to sex education. It’s important teenagers are given the right resources, so they are not faced with STDs or unwanted pregnancies.
And, teenagers should get their vaccinations!
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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