A new study by Center for Disease Control researcher Dr. Sara Forhan analyzed “nationally representative data on 838 girls who participated in a 2003-04 government health survey.” These girls were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and herpes simplex virus.
The study’s finding? At least one in four teenage American girls has contracted a sexually transmitted disease. This means STDs affect more than 3 million teenage girls.
"High STD rates among young women, particularly African-American young women, are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk," [Dr. John Douglas, director of the Center for Disease Control's division of STD prevention] said.
I think this says something about American society, where young women are taught, simultaneously, to be ashamed/uneducated when it comes to their bodies AND be sexually accessible. It really doesn’t surprise me, then, that so many girls are affected by these kinds of diseases. If we’re taught that the word vagina is a dirty, shameful word, how could we possibly know how to keep ourselves safe?
Young people in general know little about safe sex, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the statistics for teenage boys are just as high. Starting by teaching young people about their bodies, and the responsibilities that come with them, might be a good place to start.