Minnesota: Teen Pregnancy, STDs a Concern With Sexually Active Teens
May 16, 2011
A 2010 Minnesota Student Survey given anonymously found in excess of half of Mower County high school seniors acknowledged having had sex, with 47 percent having done so at least twice.
"We know kids are being sexually active," said Minnesota Department of Public Health Director Margene Gunderson. "We know that they are contracting [STDs]... . "We know it's happening, but what we are suspecting is that nobody's talking about it."
Minnesota Department of Public Health findings, which indicate that documented cases of chlamydia doubled between 1996 and 2010, support Gunderson's contention. MDPH noted Minnesota's 16,912 recorded chlamydia cases in 2009 were surpassed by its 17,760 cases in 2010. Further, a full 70 percent of Minnesota's STD patients are ages 15 to 24, MDPH said.
Mower County reported 98 chlamydia infections and 10 cases of gonorrhea in 2009, but the situation may be more dire. "Many people don't know that they have chlamydia or gonorrhea," said public health nurse Janne Barnett. "And I don't think people realize the really long-term health factors," which can include infertility. Diagnosing and treating chlamydia cost Minnesota approximately $2.76 million in 2010, reported the Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership.
Barnett hopes a summer 2010 meeting on state chlamydia statistics can be replicated locally on teen pregnancy, and she points to STD rates as a basis for expanding sex education from abstinence-only. Carol Holtz, chair of Austin Medical Center's Department of Family and Internal Medicine, agreed that families need "comprehensive sexual education."
Maryanne Law, director of the Parenting Resource Center, noted the "biological fact" that the impulse-control and decision-making area of the brain is not fully formed until age 26, "so dealing with their sexuality becomes a major challenge" for youths.
Austin Daily Herald
05.09.2011; Jason Schoonover
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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