Breaking the Cycle: STD & HIV Prevention Amongst Youth

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This quote rings true since April is STD Awareness month, and it is very important that these issues are addressed. STD and HIV statistics are still prevalent amongst our youth, and will continue to rise until the cycle is broken.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse place young people at risk for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Vaginal intercourse carries the additional risk of pregnancy. Each year, there are approximately 19 million new STD infections, and almost half of them are among youth aged 15 to 24.4.”

The CDC lists the current statistics on their website as follows:

  • In 2009, 46% of high school students had ever had sexual intercourse, and 14% of high school students had had four or more sex partners during their life.

  • In 2009, 34% of currently sexually active high school students did not use a condom during last sexual intercourse.

  • In 2002, 11% of males and females aged 15-19 had engaged in anal sex with someone of the opposite sex; 3% of males aged 15-19 had had anal sex with a male.

  • In 2002, 55% of males and 54% of females aged 15-19 had engaged in oral sex with someone of the opposite sex.

  • In 2006, an estimated 5,259 young people aged 13-24 in the 33 states reporting to CDC were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, representing about 14% of the persons diagnosed that year.

As we all should know, abstinence from vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy. The consistent and correct usage of a male latex condom can reduce the risk of catching and transmitting an STD and HIV, even though it is 98% effective. However, more and more teens and even pre-teens are actively engaging in unprotected sex, and this should be addressed and prevented for their sake.

Teaching our youth about how important it is to practice safe sex is the first step. However, it should not be limited to classrooms and clinics. Prevention starts within the household. Parents must be active in their children’s lives by giving them good advice, especially with the topic of sex. Embarrassment often takes over and the issue is often swept under the rug until something drastic happens, like an unwanted pregnancy, or worse- catching a disease that cannot be treated.

“The thing is, we all see the advertisements about practicing safe sex on television and on pamphlets, but we never really take the precautions or the time to talk about it,” says Jimmy Fredrick, who attended Morehouse College and majored in religion.

Having a sexually transmitted disease can prove to be costly in the long run than simply teaching your child about sex and the consequences that can come from unprotected sex.

“EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION! As a parent, I see the importance of talking honestly and openly with your children. And as a young adult, I know the importance of having that parental involvement! But honestly most just don’t have the kind of parents that I had, so in their place, I feel that it is our responsibility as young adults to reach out to preteens and teens and mentor them, says Alyssa Graham, a mother of one son and a student.

Alyssa continues, “We need to help give the younger generation guidance. I am a firm believer that it does take a village! That is the only way this epidemic will end!”

Shannon Morris
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Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Shannon Morris’s family knew from the moment she was born, that she was going to be successful in the entertainment industry. She possessed a love of film, the arts, reading, and writing at a very young age, having excelled in anything remotely artistic. Her natural ability to attract attention and connect with people connected her towards a career in the entertainment and healthcare industry.

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