National Condom Week Is No Joke: Data Show STDs a Major Health Concern

By Sandra Guy

Can’t you just hear late-night comedians trying to outdo each other joking about National Condom Week?

The second week of February – timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day – even elicits puns from safe-sex advocates to get kids’ attention. Take these reminders: “Don’t Be Silly, Protect Your Willy.” Or “When in Doubt, Shroud Your Spout.”

Those lighthearted reminders underlie serious consequences: Half of all new sexually transmitted diseases reported each year happen to young people 15 to 24 years old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. And more than 46 percent of sexually active high-school students failed to use a condom the last time they had sex, the CDC reports.

Many of these young people have no idea they have a sexually transmitted disease because there’s no outward symptoms.

A DePaul University alumnus who asked to remain anonymous said he took a nonchalant attitude about STDs until he got a scab on his penis. He took the Red Line to a clinic to get free testing. He had no STD and the scab went away.

The most recent data available, from the National STD Prevention Conference in Washington, D.C., Aug. 27-30, 2018,
showed the nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017 had exceeded the previous 2016 record by more than 200,000 cases. It also found that from 2013 to 2017:

• Recent increases in STDs have continued for four consecutive years.

• Syphilis cases nearly doubled.

• Gonorrhea cases increased by 67 percent.

• Chlamydia remained at record highs.

Planned Parenthood emphasizes that sex partners talk openly and honestly with each other. A flier that the organization uses to talk with students at Chicago Public Schools shows to first get consent from a partner; to never use an expired condom; and how both men and women can use condoms properly.

The American Sexual Health Association includes information and outreach tools at http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/sexual-health/mens-health/health-power/.

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