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Researchers focus on sexual health of urban youth

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found, in 2008, that 50 percent of black women between the ages of 14 and 19 had contracted a disease that could be detected with an STD test. Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) now say that organizations may have been going the wrong way about preventing risky sexual behavior among teens.

"The level of sexual activity at a young age and incidence of STDs, including HIV and AIDS, in low-income, urban black teenagers is high," said Margaret Dolcini, associate professor from the OSU School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. "We have made strides in prevention, but need to continue to deepen our understanding of the factors that contribute to unsafe sexual activity."

Based on their surveys of black youth, OSU researchers concluded that sex should be taught as appropriate for certain age groups and circumstances, and abstinence-only education would work better if it offered emotionally based alternatives to sex. Furthermore, many adolescents do not have an accurate grasp on many issues pertaining to sexuality.

This could explain why 15- to 24-year-olds of all races provide half of the positive STD tests in the U.S. each year, even though they make up a quarter of sexually active residents, according to the CDC.

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