STD Study

Posted by Mike Merritt in Society on

Ahh, after an intense end of week, weekend, and beginning of week (nothing to worry about, just busy busy busy), it’s good to be back.  That Independents Week I keep discussing?  Stay tuned to shortly after this entry.

Anyway…I agree with Robert Stein over at The Moderate Voice when he says it seems the main stream media is more interested in the sex life of Eliot Spitzer than it is in the real issues.  Namely a new report by the government that shows 1-in-4 teenage girls are being infected with STDs.

I won’t get into a discussion about Spitzer.  This is one where I’m too late; it’s already well covered elsewhere, so what do I have to add?  He resigned, and that’s probably the best option for him and the state of New York.

So, we go back to the STD study.  1-in-4?  That’s huge!  If you need a visual, find four of your friends that are girls.  According to the study, one of them has an STD.  Now, keep note that STD doesn’t mean HIV!  There are many STDs out there, of which HIV is only one.  You’ve seen the commercials, about genital herpes, and such.

Now, we know that the Bush administration is supportive of abstinence-only education, which is a crock of…well, you know.  According to the NY Times article, the government has spent $1.5 billion on it, and the result is 1-in-4 teenage girls with STDs.

That is why education systems must support contraception education.  Don’t get me wrong.  Abstinence is good option, and should be included in sexual education.  But, it cannot be the sole option taught to American children.  You tell a kid not to do something, and what do they do?  They go and do it.  Look at the prevalence of underage drinking in the U.S.  It’s very high.

The fact is, the numbers of teenagers having sex is rising (or, at least the reported numbers are as the idea becomes more acceptable to talk about).  If a kid chooses not to have sex, great.  More power to ’em.  But, if they do, I don’t think I need to state the obvious: they need to know their options.

But, more than protection, the idea of talking to your partner needs to be emphasized.  I’m trying to remember my own sexual education.  I seem to remember that it spent a great deal of time on contraception, but I don’t think it spent much time on interpersonal communication.

Look, protection is great, and it certainly does a lot to help, but it’s not all.  The article itself makes note that protection devices such as condoms will prevent all STDs.  I think that’s it’s something of a myth that as long as you wear protection, you’re set.

Well, maybe against some STDs, but not all.  And, I don’t think sexual education puts enough pressure on students to talk with their partner about any issues they might have.  For all the progress this country has made toward sexual openness in the past few decades, I still feel like it’s something of a social stigma to talk to one’s partner about any medical issues they might have.  Part of the problem is the idea of your partner have a sexual history.  Bologna, it’s important to know.  I’m not saying someone has to go into all the details, but if there’s anything that could cause a medical problem, it needs to be known, preferably before the idea of having sex comes up.

I think it’s necessary.  A little talking can prevent a big problem.  It might sound inconvenient, but I think it’s important.  I’d certainly rather a girl ask me about past sexual activity causing any medical issues, than to have that not happen.

Finally, testing.  Needs to be done, especially if you think there’s something going on.  Most testing I’ve seen seems to center around HIV, but I think it needs to be expanded to other STDs.  Not having experienced any, I don’t know, but I’m willing to guess that other STDs are pretty big issues, too.

Now for my critique of the article.  It leaves some stuff out, though I cannot tell if this is just the article or the study that does some of these.  The first big glaring thing I see is that the only group it specifically discusses African Americans.  Is there some reason for this?  Do white Americans, Hispanics, or Asians not get STDs?  It does mention a number for white Americans, but not any specific diseases like it does for African Americans.  I don’t want to play the ‘it’s subtle racism’ card quite yet, but the lack of discussion about any other subgroup makes me a little anxious.  The statistics for the group, which was right after the lead, should have been expanded to other groups, or left out entirely.

Finally, my second gripe is with the study itself.  Why only women?  Do men not get STDs either?  I’m going to have to assume there’s another study out there somewhere just for them.  I’d be interested to see a comparison STDs of American teenage men and women.  If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say it’s not so far away from the women statistic.

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