August 7, 2008
With sex scandals continuing to produce national headlines, the fact that 1 in 4 of U.S. teenage girls is affected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) has slipped under the radar screen. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, an estimated 3.2 million U.S. girls ages 14 through 19 (about 26% of that age group) have an STD such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, genital herpes or trichomoniasis.HPV, which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer, was seen in 18% of the girls.
Chlamydia, which is caused by a bacterium that can damage a woman’s reproductive organs, was seen in 4% of the girls. Trichomoniasis, which is caused by a single-cell parasite and results in vaginal itching and discharge, was seen in 3% of the girls. About 2% of the girls were infected with herpes simplex virus type 2, which causes most cases of genital herpes. Although half of teenage girls have not had sexual relations, 40% of the other half had at least one sexually transmitted disease. Girls who had only a sexual relationship with only one person still had a 20% chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Unfortunately, many of the STDs are life-threatening.
The human papillomavirus, which is a cause of cervical cancer, has recently been found to also be the cause of rising head and neck cancers. Incidences of head and neck cancer had been declining, due to decreases in smoking rates and smokeless tobacco usage. However, the human papillomavirus is now causing 40% of all head and neck cancers. In the event of neck cancer, a test should be done to see if the cancer is due to the human papillomavirus, as the best treatment for HPV-related neck cancers is different than the best treatment for smoking-related cancers. Syphilis is also on the rise in America, and has been for the last 7 years. Transmission of this organism and many others can occur during any type of sexual activity.
Bottom line: The importance of abstinence before marriage, and monogamous relationships thereafter, has never been more important. Teenage boys and girls need continuing education to remind them of the health (and mental) issues involved.
Topics: Health News