WASHINGTON, DC - March 12 - A federal study released yesterday found that one in four (26 percent) teenage girls aged 14 to 19 has a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Nearly half the African-Americans in the study were infected by one of the diseases. The survey, part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, did not ask about syphilis or gonorrhea, so it is likely the STD rates are actually higher.
The most common STD, at 18 percent, was HPV, the human papillomavirus. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. A vaccine is now available to prevent HPV infection, but right-wing leaders such as Tony Perkins of the Traditional Values Coalition and Leslie Unruh, executive director of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, have opposed the vaccination of young people because they believe it might encourage sex before marriage. In addition, researchers (Saewyc, Bearinger, Blum & Resnick, 1999) have previously found that lesbian teens are at greater risk for pregnancy.
Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
“These shocking figures prove that the Bush administration’s rejection of science-based sex education in public schools and its obsessive support of homophobic abstinence-only programs — now totaling $1.5 billion — has not only been a complete waste of money, it has clearly endangered the health of teenage girls.
“It’s long past time for Congress to end all abstinence-only funding and to insist that every young person in this country have access to honest sex education that focuses on health, not moral judgments.
“And, in light of the extremely high rates of HPV infection, it’s also long past time for right-wing leaders to drop their outrageous opposition to the vaccination of young women.”
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.