STI rates among South Carolina teens fluctuated during pandemic, long-term impact unclear

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – The 2020 sexually transmitted infection numbers paint a mixed picture for South Carolina teens.

While chlamydia levels among 15-19 year olds are down 14% from 2019, gonorrhea rates have increased by 6%, according to Beth De Santis, CEO of Fact Forward, an advocacy organization that s ‘works to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy and STIs.

However, it is not yet clear whether these numbers were due to a real decrease in rates, or if fewer teens were being tested during the pandemic, as medical systems were strained, hospitals closed to elective procedures and the use of dating apps has skyrocketed.

“There is a definite fear that these numbers will continue to rise,” De Santis said.

Fact Forward will continue to monitor the data. Data has yet to be released on whether the number of tests and treatments has also declined during the pandemic.

Conway Medical Center has seen no change in the rates of people diagnosed with STIs, according to a spokesperson for the medical system.

While the number of teenage pregnancies has declined over the past decade, many adolescent girls have not used condoms during sex, according to the results of the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Caroline from the south.

About 37.4% of high school students aged 15 and over have had sex, according to the survey results. About half of high school students reported having had sex.

More students said they wore a condom the last time they had sex than those who said they didn’t.

Condoms were the most frequently used form of contraception, followed by birth control pills. More students responded that they did not use a contraceptive method than those who reported using the removal method, having had an IUD or implant, or using a birth control injection, patch or ring .

In the last year of participating in the survey, 76.5% of adolescents had not been tested for an STD other than HIV, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Although birth control is effective in preventing pregnancy, De Santis said it does not prevent the spread of STIs.

She said the approach to adolescent reproductive sexual health has changed. While the focus on preventing pregnancy was originally focused on adolescent girls, it now targets all genders equally.

Fact Forward works with the detection and treatment of STIs and wants to increase the rate of vaccination against HPV. He also works with adults who hang out with young people so that teens have someone to ask about sexual health. That way, De Santis said, they don’t get information about the health of friends or the internet.

She said 90% of teens want their parents to talk to them about relationships and sex, but 90% of adults think their kids should learn this information from the school system, which then says kids should learn about sexual health. their parents.

This loop is why Fact Forward trains parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals to become what he calls a “searchable adult” that teens can ask questions about.

“You want to become an accessible adult,” De Santis said. “It’s not something you can do overnight.”


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