According to the Washington Post, Washington D.C. is planning to expand a sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing program to all of its high school students in the next year. Last year the program targeted 8 high schools, and found a 13% rate of STIs in the roughly 3,000 students tested. The STIs found were predominantly Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, both of which are treatable with antibiotics. This program has already been implemented in other U.S. cities, and not only gives students the chance to get tested confidentially, but also provides them with an informational lecture beforehand.
More cities and school based health centers should follow suit in providing confidential and accessible services to youth. Studies over the past decade have proven that making STI testing services and comprehensive sex education accessible to youth, does not in fact lead to higher rates of disease or earlier sexual debuts, and instead helps those teens decide when they want to have sex and inform them how to do it safely. Therefore it seems like an obvious step that all schools need to take: provide information, in interactive and accessible forms, and testing to students in school!
By Robin Mangini, Research Intern