Thursday, August 06, 2009

D.C. School STD Testing Reveals Epidemic - Abstinence Rejected

The program conducted last year [to test children for sexually transmitted diseases,] at eight high schools found that 13 percent of about 3,000 students tested positive for an STD, mostly gonorrhea or chlamydia, according to the D.C. Department of Health.

-- From "D.C. to Offer STD Tests In Every High School" by Darryl Fears and Nelson Hernandez, Washington Post Staff Writers 8/5/09

D.C. school officials are planning to offer tests for sexually transmitted diseases to all high school students in the coming school year, expanding a pilot program that uncovered a significant number of infected children.

The expansion places D.C. public schools in the vanguard of a growing number of urban school districts that test adolescents for STDs. About 12,000 students attend public high schools in the District.

STDs are of particular concern to AIDS activists because they increase the risk of contracting HIV. The testing program was hailed in a report being released Wednesday by the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice as a positive step in the city's effort to arrest its growing AIDS rate, which is the highest in the nation and is considered an epidemic. Half of the city's cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are among adolescents.

The program, which has been discussed by the D.C. school board, requires students to attend a lecture about STDs, but they can opt out of providing a urine sample for the test. All 50 states and the District allow minors older than 12 to be screened for STDs without parental consent.

In a 2007 study by the D.C. public school system, 60 percent of high school students and 30 percent of middle school students reported having had intercourse. Twenty percent of the high school students said they had had sex with four or more partners, and 12 percent of the middle school students said they had had three or more partners.

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