Tuesday, February 10, 2009

STDs and "GOOD" kids

Do these belong in the same sentence? STDs and GOOD kids?? Yes, they do, on many levels. People ask me why on earth I wrote a book about STDs. I wrote Seductive Delusions for multiple reasons, but what spurred me over and over again was every time I diagnosed a young patient (male or female) with a sexually transmitted disease and they gasped in shock and through tears and disbelief saying "there's no way that's possible- I haven't even HAD sex!" Whether they had participated in oral sex or simply had physical intimacy with direct skin contact but no intercourse, these young people THOUGHT they had "drawn the line" soon enough to avoid disease. Instead, they ended up with herpes or HPV (the wart virus) and I have to tell them that we have only treatments for outbreaks but no cure. Their moment of passion resulted in a lifelong disease.
As parents, physicians, and educators of all types, we have got to do a better job teaching our youth about the real risks of physical intimacy. STDs are not hidden in some dark corner of our society! Let's use language they understand, and put a familiar face on these diseases. Up to one in four young American adults have genital herpes, and over 20 million Americans have active HPV. In 2006 and again in 2007, we had over 1 million cases of Chlamydia (which is TOTALLY curable if found, but is silent nearly 75% of the time in women and 50% of the time in men! Untreated, it can lead to chronic pelvic pain and infertility.) Please read my ten tips for talking to teens about STDs for addition information (go to my home page on JillGrimesMD.com.)

BOTTOM LINE:Don't assume all youth practicing "abstinence" are free from the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Let's give our intelligent but hormonally driven youth all the facts they need to keep their bodies safe!

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