N.C. in Top 10 - don't applaud yet
North Carolina is ranked sixth in the nation, but this statistic is nothing to be proud of.
The ranking represents the state’s number of reported cases of gonorrhea.
In an age in which free condoms are easily available. Information about the importance of safe sex is accessible on the internet. Everyone knows unprotected sex spreads the HIV virus, but still too many teens risk their lives by not using condoms.
On Monday, Planned Parenthood, MTV and Kaiser Family Foundation announced GYT: Get Yourself Tested. It’s a nationwide campaign, primarily online, to increase testing and treatment of STDs among teens and young adults under age 25.
In Charlotte, the campaign will make it easier for teens to get tested. Anyone who is symptom-free can walk into Planned Parenthood and get tested the same day or the next one. People who have symptoms must make an appointment to see a doctor, but typically they too can be seen the same day or the next day, said Lisa Bryan development associate of Planned Parenthood Health Systems. Also, high school students receiving annual exams at Planned Parenthood can receive free testing for gonorrhea and syphilis.
The online campaign, www.GYT09.org, provides information about STDs and testing locations. The mobile companion uses the GYT short code (49809).
These organizations are sounding the alarm here because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina ranks 6th nationally in cases of gonorrhea with 16,666 reported cases in 2007.There were more than 30,000 cases of chlamydia in 2007. It’s a good bet many of those cases involve people under age 25.
According to the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, there were 2,253 cases of gonorrhea reported in males under 25 from January to September last year. Of those, 816 were ages 0-19. The infection numbers for females were nearly double.
Bryan says the high number of infections among teens underscores the need for comprehensive sex education. The organization supports the Healthy Youth Act. This N.C. bill allows parents to choose between abstinence-only sex education and comprehensive sex education.
"Comprehensive sex education should be an option in the public schools because if teenagers aren’t taught how to protect themselves and be safe, then yes, they are putting themselves at risk for contracting HIV," Bryan said.
Some healthcare professionals already say the AIDS rates in some Mecklenburg County zip codes are comparable to those in sub-Saharan Africa. If the STD numbers among people under 25 are any indication of where we’re headed, we’re in trouble.