Posts Tagged school curriculum

Have you been tested for STDs?

Relax, I’m not asking for confessions. This is a very personal subject and I really don’t want anyone to publicly discuss their own health record. I just want you to think about it and decide if testing is for you.

I’m bringing this up because the Utah Board of Education recently approved a change to school curriculum to include teaching kids about sexually transmitted diseases and encouraging them to get tested if they are sexually active.

It’s good that the state has grown up enough to admit that teenagers are engaging in sex, and that they need to be educated about dangerous diseases they might be exposed to. Unfortunately, teachers are forbidden to teach kids how to prevent another consequence of sex: pregnancy.

Contraception is still a taboo subject, although if we connect the dots we’ll see that 1)kids have sex, 2) having sex causes pregnancy, 3) kids having sex should know how to prevent pregnancy, 4) without education and access to birth control, teenagers are going to become parents. And yet, otherwise intelligent people can still argue against contraception education.

But educating kids about STDs is an important step forward and will hopefully help to reduce the alarming and increasing rate of reported diseases in Utah.

Here are some facts you may not know.

In 2007, the latest year for which data is available, 6,500 Utahns were infected with STDs, which included 1,396 cases of chlamydia among 15- to 19-year olds, according to the Utah Department of Health. While chlamydia rates are growing, the incidence of HIV and gonorrhea is also on the rise. In Salt Lake County in 2008, HIV infection was up 32 percent from the previous year; gonorrhea cases increased more than 280 percent.

You can get much more information at the Utah Department of Health website including additional statistics, some very frank information about specific STDs, and locations where you can go to get tested.

The one question I searched for and didn’t get a satisfactory answer to is who should be tested. The UDOH site says everyone who is sexually active should be. That’s practically the entire adult population. Remember what they say: when you have sex with someone, you’re also having sex with everyone they’ve ever had sex with. So, yes, probably all adults should be tested, even if they are currently in a monogamous relationship.

If you are symptom-free you might still be infected and be infecting your partner without knowing. I realize it can be intimidating and embarrassing to ask your doctor for the tests, but it’s the only way to be sure.

If you haven’t been tested, now is as good a time as any to get that taken care of. Seriously, just do it. It’s the grownup, responsible thing to do.

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