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STD cases rising among teens

According to the CDC, each year nearly half of the 19,000,000 new STD cases are among young people ages 15 to 24. And if you think it can't happen to your child, think again.

Aside from more teenagers having unprotected sex, experts say there are several other possible factors. They believe technology is one of them. It's possible more teenagers are using hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy, but are not using condoms to protect themselves against disease.

A lack of consistent, adequate access to health care is another possible reason, health care that could allow for proper diagnoses and/or treatment of an STD that would help prevent its spread.

Dr. Michelle Wolkomir, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Centenary College, says national research shows religious affiliation can also play a part in teens' decision to have unsafe sex. She says teens who believe premarital sex is wrong often don't protect themselves if and when they do decide to have sex.

"It's because they'd be planning to sin," said Dr. Wolkomir. "It would be a conscious decision to do something they have agreed is wrong, and they end up having unplanned, unsafe sex."

Wolkomir also says a teen's neighborhood can be an additional factor. "Kids who grow up in poor areas for whom college is not a probable option for their future have less incentive to protect that future."

Dr. VanChierre says sex "miseducation" should be added to the list. "Teens have told us they believe if you have a sexually transmitted infection you can't get pregnant."

That's just one of many myths doctors and teacher are trying to dispel through sex education. "A lot of kids will tell you oral sex is safe sex, but it's not. The same germs that live in the reproductive track can be transmitted through oral sex."

Sex Education teacher Jena Blair agrees. "They don't believe they'll catch something that will stay with them the rest of their lives."

"I think we need to go down to the 5th grade and start some conversation about being safe healthwise," Blair adds, "because I have children who come here by seventh grade, and I'm already too late."

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