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STD/STI Awareness

April is STD/STI (Sexually Transmitted Disease/Sexually Transmitted Illness) Awareness Month and we would like to take this issue of our newsletter to address some adolescent sexual issues that may sometimes be difficult for your or your adolescent to discuss with your provider.

Current research indicates that approximately 50% of youth will have sexual intercourse by the age of 18 years. These numbers would suggest that whether or not your child is participating in sexual behaviors, he or she most likely knows others who are. It is imperative to have conversations about sexual behaviors at home to instill your beliefs in your children and help them to make healthy decisions regarding their bodies.

We at PAMPA encourage abstinence for adolescents. When abstinence is not possible, we advocate the consistent use of condoms to help prevent sexually transmitted infections. It is our goal to have age appropriate conversations regarding these issues when your adolescent patient is seen for checkups or certain sick visits.

In 2011, over 50,000 cases of Gonorrhea or Chlamydia were reported in the state of Georgia. These are the two most prevalent sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Research indicates that those between the ages of 15 and 24 years have four times the rate of infection from these two STIs as the total population. This is in part due to adolescents partaking in high-risk behavior as well as not using condoms during sexual activity.

Abstinence is the best way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Use of a condom has also been shown to help prevent transmission of Gonorrhea or Chlamydia. STIs may have no symptoms at all, or your adolescent may have symptoms such as pain with urination, vaginal discharge, penile discharge, or ulcerations. Sore throat may also be a symptom of infection.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. It can also cause genital warts and anal/rectal cancers in both sexes. As discussed in a previous newsletter, the HPV vaccine is now recommended for boys and girls beginning at age 11 years. The goal is to immunize our adolescents BEFORE they become sexually active, not after.

If your adolescent has ever had unprotected sexual intercourse, he or she should be tested for STIs. At PAMPA we are able to test for the most common STIs through a simple, confidential urine test. We are also able to treat these infections. If your adolescent has a positive test, he or she will need to abstain from sexual activity until all sexual partners have been treated.

We hope that this newsletter will encourage conversations at home as well as allow you to feel comfortable with our discussions with your adolescent at his/her office visits. Please feel free to bring your questions or concerns to our attention.

Additional information can be found at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2011 Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
PAMPA is a pediatric medical practice in north Atlanta, Georgia consisting of twelve pediatricians, five nurses,
and four locations in Roswell, Woodstock, Atlanta, and Marietta. area.
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