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26 September 2012
New prevention measures needed for STD epidemic among black teens

New measures are needed to assist black urban teenagers who face STD infection rates up to 10 times higher than their white counterparts, suggest health experts from Oregon State University who have identified approaches to prevention programs that might reduce this problem.

The new recommendations are based on interviews of black adolescents aged from 15 to 17 in San Francisco and Chicago. The researchers found that information from parents, teachers and other caring adults is actually listened to, in spite of what adults might think. And the problem of youth getting "mixed messages" from different entities, ranging from schools to movies, churches, peer groups and medical clinics, may not be that large of an issue. And somewhat surprisingly, the research found that few youth use or trust the Internet for information on sexual health.

"The level of sexual activity at a young age and incidence of STDs, including HIV and AIDS, in low-income, urban black teenagers is high," said report author Margaret Dolcini. "We have made strides in prevention, but need to continue to deepen our understanding of the factors that contribute to unsafe sexual activity."

Dolcini found that young black kids who got information from varied sources tended to do pretty well in making smart choices. The most important progress, she said, could be made if various educational, religious and social support organizations would make a more concerted effort to address issues collectively, within the constraints of their roles and belief systems. "We need more collaboration between family, schools, medical clinics, churches, and other entities that traditionally may not have worked together," she stressed.

Some of the key findings from the report:

  • Stressing abstinence at young ages is appropriate, but could be made far more effective if youth were taught other forms of emotional interaction as an alternative to sexual intercourse.

  • Sex education will be more effective if sex is treated as a healthy part of life at appropriate ages and circumstances.

  • Young women benefitted strongly from families who had open lines of communication, talked about sex, monitored their activities and made it clear their health and safety was important.

  • Many teenagers have received surprisingly little accurate information about sex and sexual health.

Discuss this article in our forum
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Source: Oregon State University

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