Sunday, July 13, 2014
Sexually Transmitted Infections in High Schoo
Approximately 19 million people develop a new sexually transmitted infection (STI) each year. Men and women are equally susceptible and these infections affect people of various backgrounds and socio-economic levels. The goal of this paper is to describe my attached health promotion campaign that includes a poster directed at high school students. The poster is focused on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
Fifty percent of new infections in this country are among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24. The health problems associated with STIs are far more serious in women than in men, and they can cause anogenital and cervical cancers, pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to infertility, and adverse pregnancy outcomes (Mansouri & Santos, 2013). In addition, when adolescents have one or more STIs, increases their likelihood of acquiring HIV and transmitting it to their sexual partners (Mansouri & Santos, 2013).
The poster attached hereto is directed toward high school students, since they are the primary recipients of at least half of the newly acquired STIs. It is designed to be taken seriously, but with a bit of comic relief. In addition, it has been developed to grab their attention with color and the utilization of their 'language', such as the reference to 'No Love, No Glove'. These characteristics were intended to create a message that would be perceived as 'cool', and appropriate for their developmental stage.
A large number of high school students are having sex, so the promotion of safe sex seems like an urgent topic for this age group. Rather than telling them not to have sex, reminding them (because they are already well aware of the consequences associated with unprotected and unsafe sex) to have safe sex seems like a more appropriate undertaking. Providing information within the school system has a variety of benefits for the prevention of STIs. School programs are an efficient and effective way to reach a large number of students, as well as the extended networks associated with the students, such as teachers, the students' families, and community members (World Health Organization (WHO), 1999).
Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
Adolescence is a time of intense developmental change when risk-taking behavior is common, and teenagers need guidance and accurate information to help them make informed and safe decisions (Jaccard, Blanton, & Dodge, 2005). According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (USDOH) (2010), high school students have a tendency to engage in risk-taking behaviors that increase their chances of dying from the most common causes of death in for this age group. Peer pressure plays a central role in their decision making, and it is a force more powerful during adolescence than at any other time in a person's life (Jaccard, Blanton, & Dodge, 2005). This information, combined with the fact that 13.8% of students had sex with four or more partners and 34 - 47% were sexually active during high school (Mansouri & Santos, 2013; USDOH, 2010) emphasizes the need to promote safe sex during this developmental period.
Research claimed that although sexual risk behaviors during adolescence have decreased, the rate of STIs in this population have increased (Claire Newbern, 2013). In addition to the risk factors associated with STIs, these infections render adolescents more susceptible to the exposure of HIV. Effective interventions designed to reduce STIs in high school students will also help this age group avert future STIs as well as HIV (Claire Newbern, 2013). Education is the most effective method for stopping the spread of STIs, and interventions that provide high school students with the knowledge they need to avoid becoming infected have been successful in schools (WHO, 1999). The attached poster was designed to remind students that the best way to prevent STIs (short of abstinence) is safe sex. Interventions that promote safe sex are proven to be more effective than the promotion of abstinence.
STIs are a serious public health threat to high school students. Because of the large number of sexually active adolescents and the added number of adolescents considering engaging in sex, it is imperative to ensure they understand safe sex, and have ample resources to implement their understanding. The school is an effective and efficient venue in which to provide effective interventions that will be meaningful in helping this age group avert STIs and the acquisition and transmission of HIV.
Claire Newbern, E. E., Anschuetz, G. L., Eberhart, M. G., Salmon, M. E., Brady, K. A., De Los Reyes, A., & ... Schwarz, D. F. (2013). Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections and Risk for Subsequent HIV. American Journal Of Public Health, 103(10), 1874-1881. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301463
Jaccard, J., Blanton, H. & Dodge, T. (2005). Peer influences on risk behavior: An analysis of the effects of a close friend. Developmental Psychology, 41(1), 135–147.
Lang, D. L., Salazar, L.F., Crosby, R. A., DiClemente, R. J., Brown, L. K., & Donenberg, G. R. (2010). Neighborhood environment, sexual risk behaviors and acquisition of sexually transmitted infections among adolescents diagnosed with psychological disorders. American Journal of Community Psychology, 46(3–4), 303–311.
Mansouri, R., & Santos, X. M. (2013). Sexually transmitted infections in adolescents. Contemporary OB/GYN, 58(4), 46-50.
Seth, P., Patel, S. N., Sales, J. M., DiClemente, R. J., Wingood, G. M., & Rose, E. S. (2011). The impact of depressive symptomatology on risky sexual behavior and sexual communication among African American female adolescents. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 16(3), 346–356.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services. (2010). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2009, Surveillance Summaries, June 4, 2010. (CDC Publication No. SS-5. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdf
World Health Organization (WHO). (1999). Preventing HIV/AIDS/STDs and related discrimination: An important responsibility of health-promoting schools. WHO Information Series on School Health – Document Six, (WHO/SCHOOL/98.6). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/entity/school_youth_health/media/en/90.pdf
World Health Organization. (2012). School health and youth health promotion: Facts. School and youth health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/school_youth_health/facts/en/index.html