With a society more open to sexuality, younger Americans are becoming increasingly familiar with the does and don’ts regarding sexually transmitted diseases. Although teens being informed on STDs can be a good thing, it also hints at how the average age at which one first becomes sexually active is continually getting lower. This leads to an increase in STDs among youth.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 percent of young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the Unites States are infected by at least one of the four most common sexually transmitted diseases: human papillomavirus, chlamydia, herpes simplex virus, and trichomoniasis.
With one out of every four teenage females having a sexually transmitted disease, the question of whether teens of both sexes who have an STD are bringing these diseases into their transition to college and the workforce is imperative, but also touches on the moral grounds of warning their partners of their condition.
Saddleback College Health Center nurse Marla McBride said that the campus Health Center sees a lot of 15- to 24-year-old individuals come in for an STD screening. Of the reportable cases to the Orange County Health Department (HCA), chlamydia is one of the most common they diagnose.
“The HCA requires all county-based health care facilities to report cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV and chlamydia, although an exact figure on which schools and college campuses account for the greatest amount of STD-related cases are unclear due to patient-confidentiality rights,” McBride said.
According to the CDC, reported cases and rates of chlamydia in selected metropolitan areas from 2007, Los Angeles and Orange Counties had a combined total of 1,404 cases, while San Diego County had 3,432 cases and Riverside County had the most, at 8,356.
“We see more females come in for a STD-screening,” McBride said. “But we also get a significant number of males coming in for a screening, not because they are experiencing symptoms, but just because of exposure.”
The Saddleback College Health Center STD-screening costs for males are $53 and $105 for females. An additional $29 is charged should the patient opt for the Herpes-Select package.
McBride also added that although some of the barrier methods for birth control provide minimal protection for STDs, they should not be the primary choice for protection since exposure is still possible.
The topic of STD protection is an ongoing debate, according to Saddleback College psychology instructor Bob Ferguson.
“A lot of people are in denial, or are just unaware that they are contagious,” Ferguson said regarding the moral issues of warning a partner about one’s sexually transmissible disease. “Or maybe they just don’t care.”
A famous legal case concerning such an event was between Rock Hudson’s estate and his partner Marc Christian when Christian sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress after finding that Hudson was still having a sexual affair with him without Hudson disclosing that he was HIV-positive.
“Christian never got the AIDS virus, but he was still able to collect money from Hudson’s estate,” Ferguson said. “So there’s precedence out there that if you have a STD, you should really warn your partners considering an ethical, moral or lawful standpoint.”