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Illinois schools will include mandatory sex education in their curriculum this year in order to curb rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies among young people. The city has had some of the highest rates of STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea among people aged 15 to 19 in recent years and officials hope that more comprehensive education could reduce those rates.
In 2008, young people aged 10 to 24 accounted for well over half of all cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea. The city ranks first for chlamydia and second for gonorrhea cases in the nation, and a lack of STD testing could be one of the major issues, since these infections can be asymptomatic, according to CDC data. To fight the spread of these conditions, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Department of Public Health created an initiative to teach youths in the city about the spread of STDs, prevention and consequences.
The education involved 20-30 minute sessions of sexually transmitted infection education and information about STD tests. As a result of the education, more than 2,000 students from 15 schools received testing. Of those tested, 289 were positive for an STD and 280 of those students were treated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the success of this program and STD rates that continue to stay abnormally high, Illinois will now have mandatory sex education. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that will make sex education, including information about STDs and prevention, included in all curriculum, according to NBC News. The bill will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. Democratic Sen. Heather Steans, co-sponsor of the bill, elaborated.
"Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way, but the reality is that by the end of senior year in high school, two-thirds of our kids are saying that they've had sex," she said in a statement.
Many youths may need anonymous STD testing in order to determine if they have certain infections that can be spread to other youths. Education and testing can prevent many infections from spreading, which can often have severe effects if left untreated. Some can cause infertility, while others may even cause death or other serious complications if untreated. For those looking for discreet methods, a lab test online may offer the solution.
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