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CDC Report: Too Many Teen Girls Getting Sick

March 12, 2008

Nashville, TN – Too many young women, in Tennessee and around the country, are suffering the effects of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows at least one in four teenage girls has contracted an infection. The most common, the human papillomavirus (HPV), is linked to cervical cancer later in life.

Mark Huffman with Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee says the news is especially tragic, because such infections can be prevented.

"Teens deserve and need thorough information to help them protect themselves from getting infections that can threaten their well-being, not only in the present, but also in the future."

Huffman says the infections also can cause infertility. The report estimates more three million teenaged girls nationwide have STDs. Overwhelmingly, says Huffman, this reinforces criticism of healthcare and education advocates that the current federal priority of funding "abstinence only" sex education is not sufficient to protect kids.

"We know the programs that have been proven most successful at actually getting teens to wait, and at getting teens to protect themselves, are those that contain thorough information."

The study found that STD prevalence is highest among black teens; nearly half had at least one infection. Most supporters of "abstinence only" education say their choice to exclude some information about sexual activity is a religious issue. Read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report online, at www.cdc.gov.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - TN