Editorial: Kids need all available info to prevent STDs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health contained some frightening news for Minnesotans: The number of sexually transmitted diseases in Minnesota continued to increase in 2003.

Since 2002, the number of new diagnoses of chlamydia rose 5 percent and gonorrhea was up 6 percent, with most of the increases occurring in 15- to 24-year-olds, the Health Department reported.

While surveys have found that sexual activity among teenagers has been declining in recent years, the higher rates of the diseases also could mean that people who engage in unprotected sex are getting tested more often, resulting in more reported cases.

Email newsletter signup

In an era when HIV and AIDS continues to be a threat, it’s mind-boggling that anyone would engage in unprotected sex.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota blames sex-education programs promoting abstinence. The medical director states that those programs, supported by state and federal governments, are not effective &uot;in getting young adults to avoid risky behavior that might result in infection and unintended pregnancy.&uot;

Sex-education programs promoting abstinence usually preclude any discussion or reference to condoms or birth control as a way to prevent disease and pregnancy, and the director said young people &uot;need all the methods and information that is available.&uot;

It’s always easy to assess blame. While the Health Department doesn’t have any research linking higher rates of sexually transmitted disease with sex education focused on abstinence, for years it’s stated the only absolute way to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy is abstinence. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The fact, however, remains that the number of sexually transmitted diseases has been on the increase for the past five to seven years.

Young people need to continue to get the messages they’ve been receiving, as well as more. They need to know that it can indeed &045; and will &045; happen to them eventually if they engage in risky behavior.