Magazine article Ebony

What You Don't Know about STDs: Get the Facts: With Nearly Half of African-American Girls Infected, There Are Serious Implications of a Bigger, Deadlier Problem

Magazine article Ebony

What You Don't Know about STDs: Get the Facts: With Nearly Half of African-American Girls Infected, There Are Serious Implications of a Bigger, Deadlier Problem

Article excerpt

As a parent, you might not think it occurs, but girls between the ages of 14 and 19 are having sex, And your little girl could be one of them. Worse, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that nearly half of African-American girls are infected with a sexually transmitted infection.

In the study, African-American girls had the highest prevalence, with 48 percent being infected compared with 20 percent among both Whites and Mexican Americans. Researchers say that among the girls who had a sexually transmitted infection (STI), 15 percent had more than one. "Teenage girls are not adequately informed about the risks and dangers of sex and sexually transmitted diseases," says Dr. Kya Robottom, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Chicago. "Parents are relying on schools to inform their daughters about sexuality, and that is something that should not be relegated to the school system."

In the CDC study, the human papillomavirus (HPV) was the most common of the four diseases included. Chlamydia, which has some serious long-term consequences that include pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility, was a distant second, and followed by trichomoniasis and genital herpes.

Researchers say HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer, a disease that leads to the deaths of 3,500 women annually. And doctors say if you have had sexual intercourse, it's likely that you've been exposed to at least one of the types of HPV, but the majority of those who are infected have no obvious signs or symptoms. Men carry and transmit the virus to their partners, but they, too, have no symptoms, making it even more important that sexually active gifts and women have regular and thorough examinations.

In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine to fight the HPV infection, but it is most effective, doctors say, when girls are vaccinated before they begin to become sexually active. …

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