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Canada: Teens Ignorant About STDs

July 21, 2006

A recent online survey of Canadian teens conducted by the Canadian Association for Adolescent Health, with help from Ipsos-Reid, found that nearly one in five of the 1,171 respondents, ages 14-17, did not know that oral sex can lead to STDs. One in four sexually active respondents did not use protection; one in four also considered oral sex a form of abstinence.

The need for better education about oral sex and its risks led to the formation of a committee of Kitchener-Waterloo health and education representatives. They are drafting an optional curriculum-support package for teachers in senior elementary and secondary schools. "Sexploration," a Planned Parenthood play performed at public schools in the Kitchener area, features characters such as Herpes and Girl, who talk about teens and oral sex.

The Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study, published in 2003, surveyed 11,000 students in grades 7, 9 and 11, asking if they had engaged in oral sex. About one-third of 9th-grade students and more than half of 11th graders reported having oral sex at least once. A US study of 12- to 15-year-olds in 2002 showed 18 percent had had oral sex.

Hamilton's public health department and public school board are collaborating on a pamphlet for 9th and 10th graders about contracting STDs through oral sex. The pamphlet has not yet been approved by school boards officials, according to Sue Sherwood, manager of school programs with Public Health Services.

"The issue is we know that some teenagers are participating in oral sex," said Dr. Julie Emili, associate medical officer of health for the city of Hamilton. "We need to educate them that this is sex, so that they have to take precautions to protect themselves, such as wearing condoms."

Teens with questions may phone the city's Sexual Health Information Line at 905-528-5894.

Back to other news for July 21, 2006

Adapted from:
Hamilton Spectator
07.19.2006; Anne Kelly

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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