Thursday, June 11, 2009

Get Yourself Tested Is Good Advice

By Paula Gianino, Peter Brownlie, Tonia Stubblefield

The "Get Yourself Tested" campaign -- or for the text-savvy, GYT09 -- was created as a means of addressing the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions' recently released and alarming statistics: one in four teenage females [contract] HAS a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and half of all teenagers are sexually active.

Missouri's score card is even worse. Missouri's largest cities -- Kansas City and St. Louis -- lead the country in chlamydia and gonorrhea rates. Two-thirds of Missouri's high school juniors are sexually active, and one in two young adults will contract an STD before their 25th birthday. These statistics are unacceptable and a cause for alarm and action, as they impact the health and well-being of Missouri's teenagers and young adults.

Our former governor and members of our legislature have turned their backs on this crisis. They eliminated Missouri's family planning program while also reducing the standards for comprehensive and evidence-based sexual health information in public schools. Meanwhile they refused to pass sensible prevention legislation this year that would allow health professionals to presumptively treat the partners of patients who have STDs -- a clinical standard that exists in most other states.