Wednesday, May 30, 2007

STD Epidemic

Even though teen pregnancy rates may have gone down, sexually transmitted disease has become epidemic.

Did you know that you can get cancer from sex?

Did you know that the HPV virus infects 46% of teenage girls after their first sexual intercourse? This virus causes cervical cancer.

Did you know that even curable STDs could leave lasting damage and future difficulty in getting pregnant?

Did you know that 25% of sexually active teens are living with an STD?

I have been involved in the prolife movement for many years and I thought I had a good handle on the consequences of teenage sex. For ten years, I have stood on the sidewalk in front of local high schools and told the students about Jesus, abortion and sex. An essential part of our message is abstinence. I knew things were bad but I didn’t know how bad.

I finished reading a book last night that was both fascinating and horrifying. Written by Meg Meeker, M.D., the book shows how teen sex is killing our kids. Dr. Meeker practices pediatric and adolescent medicine. On a daily basis, one-third of the teenage patients she sees have a sexually transmitted disease. Does that blow your mind like it does mine?

Look at these statistics:

  • Nearly 50% of African-American teenagers have genital herpes.
  • Although teenagers make up just 10% percent of the population, they acquire between 20 and 25% of all STDs.
  • Herpes has skyrocketed 500% in the past 20 years among white American teenagers.
  • Nearly one out of ten teenage girls has chlamydia, and half of all new chlamydia cases are diagnosed in girls 15 to 19 years old.
In the 1960s the two known STDs, syphilis and gonorrhea, could be cured with a shot of penicillin. Today, the simple cures are gone and in many cases there are no cures at all. Many STDs are lifelong and life threatening. Even curable STDs can cause significant damage such as pelvic inflammatory disease before they are caught.

Do you think kids are being taught these facts in public school sex-ed classes? That sure doesn’t sound like safe sex to me.

So what about condoms? Aren’t they supposed to make teen sex safe? Let’s look at the facts. The conclusion of one study was that while male latex condoms could reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS, there was not enough evidence to determine that they were effective in reducing the risk of most other sexually transmitted diseases.

Another study showed that “condoms have no impact on the risk of sexual transmission of human papilloma virus (HPV) in women.”

So, understanding the facts shows that condoms provide very little protection from STDs. It makes me upset to realize how teens are being lied to. They are given false assurance that is leaving many of them scarred for life.

So what are the roots of this epidemic? Here are some:
  • Easy availability of birth control. Kids can have sex with less worry about pregnancy. However, birth control is not disease control.
  • Lack of knowledge. Kids are not informed of the facts regarding STDs. Four out of five, for example, didn’t know that most people who get an STD never develop symptoms.
  • Starting sex earlier. Statistics show that the earlier a teen starts, the more partners he or she will have. The more partners, the more chance of infection.
  • Confusion of what sex is. Many teens think that anything short of penetration is not sex. Oral sex and mutual masturbation are viewed as not “real” sex. Some teens engage in these activities and think they are practicing abstinence. What they don’t know is that avoiding penetration is not avoiding disease.
  • Teenage anatomy. A teenage girl’s cervix is more vulnerable to infection than an adult woman’s cervix.
Another increase is in the varieties of STDs. We went from two in the 1960s to around eighty today. The sexual revolution has a high price.

Aside from the physical problems, there are also the emotional. Dr. Meeker speaks of emotional STDs. There are skyrocketing rates of depression in teens and much of it can be traced to the fallout from sexual activity and its consequences.

The book closes out with a chapter on connecting with teens, especially our own. It points out that connecting through communication, intimacy, love, appreciation, and disapproval of unmarried sex, will go a long way in helping teens avoid sexual activity.

Is your head spinning? Mine was and is. I read this book twice. The second time I went very slow and took notes. I could hardly believe many of the statistics and had to look at the references to know they were not made up. As horrible as these things are, I have hope that as teens learn the truth it will change the way they live. I have seen that with abortion and I believe we could see it here as well.


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