I have not had a chance to review the original paper, but this news headline from the 11th of March caught my attention and I thought it deserved a blog entry here at Mormon Matters. Though the sample size is medium, the findings show how rife STD’s are in US society. The sample was nationally respresentative so I presume the authors removed any bias for location. Amongst 14 to 19 year olds, 50% of African American-Girls that were surveyed had an STD whilst 1 in 5 Caucasian and Hispanic girls had at least one STD.
Perhaps I am showing my naivety, but I was rather schocked at how high the figures are. Something needs to be done to bring these figures down as it does not seem that current methods of containing sexual disease are working. I would be in favour of sociological, educational and medical advancements.
As a medical student, and in terms of sexual behaviour, patient discernment is of utmost importance. However, for teenagers the tempting glorification of sex through cultural mediums such as music, movies and tv does not give the harsh reality of the prevelance of sexually transmitted diseases that teenagers face.
And for pragmatisms sake, I hope this new study will provide some evidence in favour of sexual discretion within society though I think it will just go by overlooked as headlines of Britney Spears going into psychological meltdown after flashing her “ladies bits” upon getting out of another expensive car are projected into the headlines.
Well, there go MY plans for the weekend.
I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of STDs but the article/study generated statistical sensationalism by focusing on HPV rates among females. Look at the numbers–stick to the ‘usual suspects’ and it’s 1 in 25.
It’s a difficult issue. My wife is in the Young Women’s presidency in our ward, and she notices that the girls who come out to Young Women’s activities (from a less-active family) have received quite a lot of pressure to go down to the local sexual health clinic for STD testing. Now, these girls are 14 years old, and they have a keyring in the shape of a sperm, as a reward for having been tested.
Of course, I praise any efforts to curb the spread of disease, sexual or otherwise. But an unfortunate side-effect of education and testing for these diseases is that it introduces mature and sombre subjects to young women who have in reality, just emerged from childhood. I remember my thirteen year old sister coming home from school with a bag full of condoms and other sexual health ‘goodies’.
There are no easy answers. I have observed recently, to their credit, that the UK media have done a fairly good job of airing adverts about the importance of protected sex, and I’ve seen at least one Hollywood film recently that showed the consequences of not using a condom. Perhaps things are getting better, in that sense.
Of course, if we could just convince more people to live the law of chastity…!
The problem today is beyond repair since its impossible to test everyone in time or to stop the spread. The guy who has herpes doesn’t necessary become sexually inactive or a champion of condom wearing. Testing only finds who has the virus after the fact.
As Andy says here, if only we could convince more people to live the law of chastity…
#1 Disco Dave…made me chuckle..cheers.
#2 Stady…yes I agree. I get very put off when media catches a hold of science and sensationalizes it. I hope that with the new HPV vaccine…these rates will drop. Perhaps this article by the BBC is intended to “encourage” young girls to opt in to get the newly developed HPV vaccine. Probably not considering it was a widely spread news story through out the world…I dont know…but as a health professional it caught my eye.
#3 Andy…Thanks for your comments. I agree with them 100% STD’s take up a considerable financial resource on the NHS. The government, just with smoking and obesity, is trying to curb this to their credit. Was the film Juno by any chance? lol…If it was…I thoroughly enjoyed the film…thanks again for the comments.
#4 Carlos…Thank you for your comments. I think we must stay optimistic and do what we can. I agree that a societal move towards chastity and sexual discretion would be the best option though somewhat idealistic. Perhaps the HPV vaccine is the next best thing in terms of the spread of the disease.
I just realized that having my picture next to a headline STD’s rife Amongst US Teenage Girls….looks rather dodgy!
Thank goodness I am married and I have a good reputation! 🙂
or at least married. *grin*
This HPV vaccine is currently forced here (Aus) on all under 14 year old girls at school and one of the results, claimed, is a slight increase in promiscuity which puts girls at risk of herpes and other STD. It’s a double edged sword.
I agree that we should be optimistic but given the way this entire issue has gone over the past 30 odd years, well, I’m more optimistic about a millennial cleanup than seeing more people live the law of chastity.
LoL @ #6. 😛 I was also surprised by those number and I am a teenager (living outside Utah). Haha. I know it goes on so I guess the STDs are just inevitable. Crazy world. It’s weird to get vaccinations for these things, especially at that age. I guess the only logical reason an LDS youth would get on is to lessen the potential effects of a rape incident.
It my age, it seems like they freak you out sometimes about all these STDs and stuff like sex is a dangerous thing. I guess that’s good, but when I think for a minute I realize, why am I concerned about any of these things? If I keep doing the right things and marry a woman that is and has been then it won’t be an issue.
I must say I’m not surprised to hear these stats at all. As if peer pressure, alcohol and drugs and bad judgment weren’t enough to combat abstinence, the drugs of choice today seem more likely to cause promiscuity than the good old fashioned pot of a younger generation (which just gave kids the munchies). And access to date rape drugs that teens might not even fully understand can take choice out of the equation.
i find it interesting that the comments on this thread have not mentioned parenting at all. that the cause of such a high rate of STDs and sexual activity is here perceived as people not living the law of chastity, drug use, peer pressure–even preventative measures like the HPV vaccine.
americans in general and mormons in particular abdicate their responsibility as parents to begin educating their children about sex and their bodies when they are young–not when they’re starting to experience hormonal changes and sexual desire as pre-teens and early teens, but when they’re very small. 4, 5, 6. i’m not suggesting that every nitty gritty detail should be given to such small children. but children are curious–about everything, including their bodies. and if their bodies could be more openly discussed, if they were taught how they work including sexually, throughout their lives, rather than suddenly at the age of 10 or 12 or 15, i think they could understand better how to behave responsibly when it comes to sex.
but when we wait until the changes have started–and then when we use fear and threats to reinforce the dangers of sexual activity–well, it’s no wonder that approach doesn’t work, now is it. information. it’s all about information. presented in such a way that the sexuality of the human body is as ordinary as its need for food and warmth. parents cannot abdicate the responsibility to educate their children about their bodies and sex to the schools or the church. doing so simply begs for problems.
amelia, I agree that parenting is one of the key pieces to the solution, and I think as important as parents being willing to address it is educating parents on how to address it. I also believe that today’s parents are sort of clueless about the new drug culture (pharm parties, X, GHB) and how the teen scene differs today (e.g. facebook, texting, friends with benefits, hookups). Parents need to become informed and they need to have an ongoing two-way dialogue with their kids that includes mutual respect, having a sense of humor, and being open.
“americans in general and mormons in particular abdicate their responsibility as parents to begin educating their children about sex.” This is a sweeping generalization, which may or may not be true. I think it’s interesting though, that of the 3 main STDs (syphilis, chlamydia, and gonnorhea–there’s a list for a spelling bee!), UT does not rank in the top 10 states for any of the 3 (based on rate, not raw numbers, so lower population is not a factor). So, while ignorance may not be bliss, it appears to beat moral grayness in terms of preventing STDs.
“americans in general and mormons in particular abdicate their responsibility as parents to begin educating their children about sex.”
I think there are so many factors at play here that any generalizations are difficult. Certainly the forms of media and the new ways of communications are a factor, parental neglect plays a role, society’s lack of morality is also there as well. But, you cannot dismiss the fact that some kids will have sex in spite of the best efforts of their parents. Some kid’s personalities just create the opportunity where it happens. Also, in some cases where you might see all the negative influences in force, kids don’t have sex. Ultimately, it is a choice for them to make.
I guess I am saying that it is too complex an issue to nail down one, two or even three particular reasons why it may happen and the consequential epidemic of STDs.
hmmmm, pardon me for a threadjack – but in light of the comments about educating children when they are 4, 5 and 6 about the facts of life – I well remember sitting down with my 5 year old son when he asked me how the baby growing inside me got in there. I thought I did very well explaining how the daddy’s penis entered the mommy’s vagina, and about the sperm and egg, etc., until my smug complacency was shot down by his comment ” well, I understand all that, but I just want to know how I got inside my dad’s penis in the first place.” I must admit at that point I just pretty much gave up for the day.
#15 – Priceless! Absolutely priceless.
Great point: “some kids will have sex in spite of the best efforts of their parents.” And some kids will do so because of the best efforts of their parents. If you are too pushy, one day your kid wakes up and realizes you’re not the boss of him/her and goes off the deep end.
working mother – good one!
I guess I should have said, “best efforts of their parents to prevent it.” I guess some would enable it as well.
Working mother – Yeah, just how did that happen? :0)
There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points I disagree with some, but most seems accurate. Thanks.