Texas: Agency Tackling Teen STD Problem
May 20, 2005
Data collected by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (MHD) show a dramatic rise in syphilis and HIV/AIDS cases over the past two years in the city, especially among teenagers. In the first three months of 2005, 110 new syphilis cases were reported -- double the number reported in the first three months of 2004. New HIV/AIDS cases increased 32 percent between 2003-2004.
Experts suspect the increase results from teenagers becoming more sexually experimental, having more sex partners, and using protection less. "We see [teenagers] who have had eight, 10, 12 partners," said Sandra Guerra-Cantu, a medical chief for MHD. She stressed the problem is occurring nationally.
CDC data show almost half of new STD infections in the United States occur in people ages 15-24. In 2003, 14 percent of high schoolers had already had four or more sex partners.
MHD is holding separate presentations in schools for parents and students to draw attention to the growing problem. The student presentation explains the symptoms of STDs and how to be tested. The purpose is "to give them information that if they have been sexually active, they may have been exposed and they should be tested," said Susan Kasper, director of health services for the district.
Kasper told parents at a recent presentation, "It seems our youth are having more sexual partners by 19 than a generation ago had in their lifetime. We have a lot of misconceptions that oral sex is safe. It is not safe from disease."
San Antonio Express-News
05.18.2005; Simone Sebastian
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