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Stds and How They Affect Society

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Essay title: Stds and How They Affect Society

BlackDoctor.org) -- Federal health researchers said this week that a whopping half of African American teenage girls have a sexually transmitted infection. That fact is troubling enough, but it's all the more so when you consider its implications for the Black AIDS epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study, which is the first of its kind, on March 11 at its annual STD prevention conference. Researchers culled through 2003-2004 data in an ongoing, annual health survey of American households. As part of that survey, 838 14- to 19-year- old girls were tested for a handful of common sexually transmitted infections -- chlamydia, herpes, trichomoniasis and human papilloma virus, or HPV. More than a quarter of the girls had at least one of the infections, as did 48 percent of Black girls. Twenty percent of both white and Mexican American girls (the only Latino group CDC broke down the numbers on) had one of the infections.

The study is the latest to show higher prevalence of STDs and STIs among Black youth. Syphilis rates, for instance, are holding steady or declining among other youth groups, but are increasing among African American teens -- and skyrocketing among Black males. Already, we know that Blacks account for 69 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases among American teens every year. And this week's study suggests that number will get worse before it gets better.

While there are many unanswered questions about HIV's ongoing spread, one thing is clear: Untreated STDs make it happen a lot easier. If you have an untreated STD or STI and have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, you are as much as five times more likely to contract the virus. If half of all Black teen girls had an STI in 2003-2004, the potential growth in the AIDS epidemic is breathtaking.

But ultimately, the research done by the CDC and others on youth sexuality leaves too many questions unanswered. It's important to note, for instance, that other CDC studies have found that sexually active Black teens are not taking greater risks than their peers, and that in many ways they are in fact more responsible in their sex lives.

Federal and state health officials survey high school students about sex every two years. They've found that black youth do in fact report more active sex lives than their peers -- they're more likely to have ever had sex, to start by age 13, and to have multiple sex partners in their lifetime. But among all students who report having sex, black youth are more likely

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