Although the rates of teen pregnancy are decreasing overall in the United States, the numbers of California teens getting STIs is still rising. Here are some statistics on teen STIs in California:
- In teens ages 15-19, there were 4,828 cases of gonorrhea and 42,504 cases of chlamydia in 2011. This age group accounts for approximately 20% of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases in CA.
- San Diego County is disproportionately affected by chlamydia (2nd highest number of cases) and gonorrhea (6th highest number of cases). Fresno County is also a “hot spot” for these STIs.
- In the US, the 15-24 age group accounts for half of the 20 million STI cases reported each year.
The Condom Access Project allows anyone between the years of 12 and 19 to request a 10 pack of condoms anonymously over the internet. The package comes with the condoms, lube, and informational pamphlets to promote safe sex among this demographic. Earlier this year, the program spread to San Diego and Fresno which are now some of the centers where teens can request condoms. Although condoms are regularly available, this program eliminates barriers such as embarrassment and cost. Some parents worry such programs will promote sexual activity and/or pressure teens who are not sexually active to start having sex. However, many studies have shown that sex education does not increase sexual activity and many California pediatricians stand behind this program. Still, parents who choose to teach abstinence in their homes do not appreciate their children having the ability to access to free condoms without their knowledge.
1. Should minors be given the choice to have free access to condoms?
2. Do government or non-government organizations have the right to teach children about sex without informing parents?
3. How effective is this program?
4. Would this program work in states that predominantly teach abstinence in schools?
5. If you were a pediatrician, would you offer your teen patients condoms? Under what circumstances? How would you handle their parents on this issue?
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