A local Illinois organization is trying to lower the barriers about sexually transmitted diseases testing and get teenagers talking about them.
group, Central Illinois Friends, began in 1990 thanks in part to
local citizens worried about the reactions and answers to the
HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today, the organization, which Deric Kimler is
executive director of, is focused on STD testing and prevention, as
well as sex education. They also make treatment referrals for the 16
counties they serve in the central part of the state.
the beginning, the organization was focused on three high schools in
the Peoria area, where 22 percent of the sexually-active teens were
diagnosed with some type of STD. That number has dropped to six
said the organization works alongside the Hult Center for Healthy
Living to offer sex education for the 150 7th
grade students in the Peoria Public Schools District. He said the
earlier education may be helping to decrease the numbers.
said youth lives have been changed because they are given 100 percent
free testing and sex education to help them understand the dangers
sex can have.
According to information from the Peoria City/County Health Department, STD rates were the highest in the county for people ages 15 to 29 years old in 2017 with chlamydia and gonorrhea rates up to three times higher than anywhere else in the state.
said information isn’t collected for other STDs such as herpes, HPV
said the high rates are the result of the stigma tied to sex
discussions, but safe sex isn’t something that needs to be feared
and must be addressed.
Kimler said people come together to have sex, and adults need to talk about it to stem the crisis.
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In the beginning, HIV drugs could be reduced to nearly untraceable levels, which means it’s no longer a death sentence for those who have the virus. Today, there is a treatment that allows HIV-negative people to remain HIV even if they have an HIV partner. However, to defeat the AIDS-causing virus, doctors must come up with a vaccine.