Philadelphia Teens Rank High in Nationwide STD Statistics
Philadelphia teenagers have some of the highest STD rates in the United States. In 2010, more than 19,000 cases of Chlamydia were reported in Philadelphia with the age group of ten to nineteen years of age accounting for forty-five percent of the infected. While this is an alarming number, what is more alarming is that teenagers are in deep denial of not just the STDs, but of having sex altogether.
In 2011, the journal, Pediatrics, published the results of a study concerning teenagers and sexual behaviors. The findings indicated a vast disconnect between what the teens say and what the facts are. In other words, teenagers lie about sex.
This particular study included 14,000 adolescents. Ten percent of the test subjects had STDs although they insisted they hadn’t had sex during the last year. Even more surprising, more than six percent of the participants who tested positive for STDs claimed to have never had sex.
There are many motives to lie; fear of disappointing parents, fear of legal repercussions concerning under-aged sex, fear of being scorned by peers, name calling, and the loss of one’s reputation are just a few social reasons that readily come to mind. On the biological side, an argument can be made that the limbic system which is in charge of instant gratification matures early while the prefrontal cortex of the brain which is responsible for self control does not fully develop until later.
The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 2009 found that twenty-five percent of girls older than fourteen years of age have had an STD. Each year nineteen million new cases of a sexually transmitted disease are diagnosed. Half of that nineteen million comes from the fifteen to twenty-four year old age group. The cause is easy enough to determine. In this recent survey, thirty-nine percent of the interviewed teenagers admitted to not using a condom the last time they had sex.
While these statistics are staggering, Philadelphia’s numbers are even worse. Sixty-three and a half percent of high school teenagers in Philadelphia have had intercourse. Almost fifteen percent of them had sex before the age of thirteen. Approximately twenty-five percent have already had more than four sex partners, while eleven percent admitted to consuming alcohol or using drugs before having sex the last time.
In November 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics recognized and adopted CDC recommendations for universal and routine HIV testing for all patients aged thirteen to sixty-four. This measure will eliminate a teen or anyone from lying about whether or not they are sexually active. It will also reduce the number of cases where HIV or STDs are spread because a person does not know he or she is infected.