A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “even though young people aged 15–24 years represent only 25 percent of the sexually experienced population, they acquire nearly half of all new STDs.”

The 2010 study, “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance” (.pdf), said that “sexually active adolescents aged 15–19 years and young adults aged 20–24 years are at higher risk of acquiring STDs for a combination of behavioral, biological, and cultural reasons” than older populations do.

According to the report:

The higher prevalence of STDs among adolescents also may reflect multiple barriers to accessing quality STD prevention services, including lack of health insurance or ability to pay, lack of transportation, discomfort with facilities and services designed for adults, and concerns about confidentiality. Traditionally, intervention efforts have targeted individual-level factors associated with STD risk which do not address higher-level factors (e.g., peer norms and media influences) that may also influence behaviors. Interventions for at-risk adolescents and young adults that address underlying aspects of the social and cultural conditions that affect sexual risk-taking behaviors are needed, as are strategies designed to improve the underlying social conditions themselves.

Advocates for comprehensive sex education in the state of Florida have long warned about the increase of STDs among young people. Florida’s current sex education policy focuses on abstinence-only programs, which do little to help sexually active teens prevent STDs.

A 2007 study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. showed that abstinence education programs do not have an effect on the number of teens abstaining from sex. According to the study (.pdf), “none of the individual programs had statistically significant impacts on the rate of sexual abstinence, whether measured as either always remaining abstinent or being abstinent during the last 12 months.”

These programs did, however, affect the perceived efficacy of condoms among young people. Condom use has been proven to greatly limit the prevalence of many STDs.

According to this study:

Program group youth, however, were less likely than control group youth to perceive condoms as effective at preventing STDs. Compared with control group youth, program group youth were less likely to report that condoms are usually effective at preventing HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and herpes and HPV. Furthermore, program group youth were more likely than control group youth to report that condoms are never effective at preventing these STDs.

A “Sex Education in the Sunshine State” report shows that “Florida’s young people are increasingly impacted by the high rate of HIV infection in the state.” According to the report, “in 2007, persons under the age of 25 accounted for 15 percent of new HIV infections in the state.” Also in 2007, “youth accounted for 65.5 percent of new STD infections in Florida.” This is well over the percentage nationwide.

The state of Florida continues to have an abstinence-only sex education statute on the books, while also turning away grant money for comprehensive sex education in the state.

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