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By Sista Yaa


Sunday, April 20, 2014.


This correspondence is in response to the story of promoting sex or preventing sexually transmitted diseases (formally known as STDs).  


To be concise references to STD, is now antiquated terminology, just as the primus for suggesting supplying a condom to 'sexually curious adolescents' somehow equates to promoting sex. 


Please note promoting condom use only promotes safer sex practices for those who are engaging in the act, regardless of their age. I am sure you can agree that social media, internet access and text messaging promotes sexual events far better than any public health campaign could ever accomplished. 


This is not a political issue, this is a public health initiative based on sound public health data which supports the fact there must be a holistic approach to reducing the number of STI including HIV among adolescents 13-24 years old.  


Based on the Chicago Department of Public Health STI/HIV 2012 Surveillance Report, in Chicago for 2012 alone, there were a total of 37,721 Chlamydia and Gonorrhea cases combined, of which, 13-24 year olds accounted for 71% chlamydia cases and 67% Gonorrhea cases.


Since 2008, there has been a 6% increase in Chlamydia diagnoses among those 13-19 years old. In 2011 there were 1,008 people newly diagnosed with HIV infection, 24% of those infections were among people ages 13-24 years old. And in 2012 those under the age of 30 years old accounted for half of the newly diagnosed Syphilis cases. 


So it is undeniable that adolescents are already having sex with or without permission of adults, and some are not using condoms. People may say they want to reduce teen pregnancy, but being pregnant is not a disease or infection it is a condition which changes in about 9-10 months. 


In contrast, if one does not prevent or one is not treated for STD including HIV, the complications may last a life time. However there is some good news, Blacks in Chicago experience the greatest decreases in the percentage of Gonorrhea cases (4%) as compared to other groups, due to access to treatment and safer sex reduction methods, like using a condom. 


So, a campaign that supports using condoms is not about promoting sex, instead it promotes a better, holistic and mature approach toward a healthy attitude and skill set aptitude. Skills to be gained from this angle, are decision making, problem solving, refusal and negotiations with and among their peers. Now that is worth promoting!  


Sista Yaa is Chicago‚Äôs Local Community Epidemiologist of TACTS (The Association of Clinical Trial Services).


Why We Need To Talk About Condoms and Safe Sex to Young People

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