The Real “Fright” about High Teen STD Rates
November 25, 2009
I spoke to Montel Williams on his Air America show Montel Across America, last Thursday. We talked about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2008, which was released last week. The CDC’s report found that STDs, such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea, are on the rise. And why is this relevant to us? Because the report found that there are over 19 million new STD infections each year and almost half of them occur in young people who are 15 to 24 years old. Montel, much like other adults who’ve been talking about the report, was alarmed by these numbers and referred to the high rates of STDs among young people as “frightening” news.
It is surprising to hear this news. But what’s really frightening is the fact that many teens are in abstinence-only programs or not getting sex ed at all. This means there are teens who aren’t getting the information they need about safer sex. It also means that many teens haven’t gotten the skills they need to talk about and make decisions about safer sex with their partners if they do decide to become sexual. Comprehensive sexuality education may be able to help reduce STD rates. It teaches teens the skills they need to take care of their sexual health, make healthy decisions, get clear about their own values and set boundaries when it comes to sexuality.