The first-ever national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases (or STDs) (HPV, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, and Trichomoniasis) among girls and women was released yesterday. And the results were eye-opening: at least one-in-four girls are infected with one of the four diseases surveyed. Among Black girls between the ages of 14-19, the percentage shoots up to about half.
According to the NY Times, the Centers for Disease Control reacted by calling “for strengthen[ed] screening, vaccination and other prevention measures for the diseases, which are among the highest public health priorities.”
Yes, that’s right. But let’s not beat around the bush here. We don’t just need “prevention measures,” if prevention measures means more abstinence-only “education”. We need comprehensive sex education so that teens–who, let’s face it, are likely to be sexually active at some point before marriage–know how to prevent the transmission of STDs and learn how to protect themselves. C
ecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s current leader, put it well: “The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,” Ms. Richards said, “and teenage girls are paying the real price.”
Yes, it is girls and women who are paying the price. And it’s not the price for having sex or for attending comprehensive sex ed, if they were lucky enough to have it, as some on the anti-sex, anti-woman, anti-abortion bandwagon would have us believe. It’s the price for living in a country (or rather, under a regime) that does not respect women’s sexuality.
The Wall Street Journal can argue all it wants that these numbers are not alarming once we dig a little deeper, and that the prevalence of HPV in young women shouldn’t get us too worked up. But it does. And it should. It should get us worked up enough to push our states to reject abstinence only funding (if they haven’t already) and to institute real, comprehensive sex education.