US youth at risk of sexual disease

Nine million Americans aged between 15 and 24 suffer from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), according to a new study.

    There are 18 million STD cases in America

    US journal Perspectives in Sexual and

    Reproductive Health says half of

    America's 18 million STD cases belong to this

     age group even though they

     account for only

    one quarter of sexually

    active people.

    Human papillomavirus (HPV), trichomoniasis and chlamydia are the

    three diseases that affect nine in 10 of all new cases of STD

    infections in the group, the journal

     said on Tuesday.

    "It is not surprising that teens and young adults contract a

    disproportionate number of infections," said Sharon Camp of the

    Alan Guttmacher Institute which financed the study.

    Sexual activity

    "Most young people are sexually active, and many are ill

    equipped to prevent STDs or seek testing and treatment," Camp said.

    New estimates suggest the direct medical costs associated

    with a lifetime of treating cases of STD infection diagnosed in

    young people in 2000 could reach $6.5 billion.

    "It is not surprising that teens and young adults contract a

    disproportionate number of infections.

    Most young people are sexually active, and many are ill

    equipped to prevent STDs or seek testing and treatment"

    Sharon Camp,
    Alan Guttmacher Institute

    Ninety percent

    of that cost, however, is due to treatment of HIV/AIDS and the small

    percentage of cases that result in cervical abnormalities or genital

    warts.

    The authors of the study

    emphasize prevention and education to cut

    the future cost of STD infections.

    Contraception

    "Investing money today in STD prevention and education could

    dramatically reduce the incidence of these infections, and thus

    future treatment costs," the authors said.

    Adolescents "need realistic sex education that teaches them how

    to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies", Camp said.

    "It is essential to have medically accurate information about

    condoms and other contraceptive methods, and guidance in how to

    access appropriate prevention, testing and treatment services."

    A number of STD prevention programmes in American schools,

    financed by the public purse and by conservative organisations, try

    and teach sexual abstinence without mentioning condoms to prevent

    disease in the event of sexual relations.

    SOURCE: AFP


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