Illinois action blog

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The alarming truth: 1 in 4 girls has an STD

Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a an extremely alarming report finding that at least 1 in 4 girls has a sexually transmitted infection. That's more than 3 million American teenagers.

The study focused on girls in the 14 to 19 year old age range. Four common STDs were examined in the CDC study. The report found that human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer, affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent.

These are serious numbers with serious health consequences. In addition to the risk of HPV causing cervical cancer, chlamydia can cause painful pelvic inflammatory disease and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. It can also lead to infertility. Infection with an STD such as trichomoniasis can also increase the likelihood of contracting HIV from an infected partner.

These numbers point to a public health crisis. Teenagers need to know how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. They need the right information to make responsible decisions. They need real comprehensive sex education.

It's an absolute outrage that our government has wasted more than $1.5 billion on dangerous abstinence-only programs that deny teenagers life-saving information. It’s time to put that money toward real solutions that will help prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among teenagers.

Technorati tags: sexually transmitted disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenage girls, Planned Parenthood of Illinois

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