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Report On Teen Sex Gives MN Parents An Opening for "The Talk"

IMAGE: Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1. Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
IMAGE: Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1. Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
August 21, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The number of teenagers engaging in oral sex is falling, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control, which is is providing parents a chance to have "the talk" with their children. Still, about one in three will have engaged in that activity by the time they reach the age of 17.

Judith Kahn, executive director of Teenwise Minnesota, says it's not without risk.

"Young people don't fully and can't fully appreciate the consequences of oral sex. They're focused on (preventing) pregnancy, but having oral sex is a way to contract sexually-transmitted infections."

Kahn says one infection that can be spread through oral sex is chlamydia, which is the most commonly diagnosed STD in the state.

"Every county in Minnesota has a registered case of chlamydia in the adolescent population. Gonorrhea can be contracted orally. Syphilis, herpes, HIV: some of those are a little less likely and you need the right conditions, but it is possible."

While talking to one's children about sex can be awkward, Kahn says there are ways to ease into the discussion. She says to start by talking about relationships, ask open questions, and have the talk in your car.

"There's no direct eye contact. You know, you can look straight ahead. You can look out the window. That kind of helps for young people in particular, but also for the adults."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a third of teens have engaged in oral sex by the time they turn 17 years old.

More details are at www.cdc.gov and at www.moappp.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN