SEWICKLEY (KDKA) — The numbers are hard to comprehend in this time of social media, advanced medicine and awareness.
“I think that the younger population is more promiscuous today than probably ever before,” says Dr. Frank DiCenco at AHN’s Premier Women’s Health in Sewickley.
Dr. DiCenco says the numbers in a state health department alert about STD’s and HIV among 15-24 year olds in Beaver County are “quite concerning and we, in our practice, have seen an uptick in the number of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia cases.”
The state alert says the cases of Gonorrhea among 15-24 year old men and women were up 34 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. HIV was up almost threefold.
“The HIV rate increasing 300 percent is very concerning,” says Dr. DiCenco.
There is equal concern in Allegheny County.
“Our incidence rates for Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV have and continue to exceed the state’s incidence rates,” Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker said.
The county recently opened a Blakey Center Hill District clinic specifically for STDs and HIV.
Dr. DiCenco believes this generation of high school and college students don’t recognize the risk
“I’ve seen high school students who tell me they’ve had multiple sexual partners,” DiCenco said. “Ladies as young as 14. And they have what they call sex partners. Someone that is a friend that they have sex with.”
The health experts recommend anyone sexually active, regardless of their age, be tested because timing is critical.
“A patient could have this ongoing for some time and be in the category of having no symptoms,” says Dr. DiCenco.
That patient could be spreading it to others without realizing the danger. He also points out left untreated too long and the infection could ruin a woman’s chances of ever creating a baby normally. He says men are treated with a course of antibiotics and usually fully recover.
So why are the numbers among young people rising? Students on the Carnegie Mellon Campus had these responses:
“I guess people don’t think it’s that much of a big deal, especially with the advancement in medical care.”
“Lack of responsibility, lack of proper sex education teaching. Don’t just teach abstinence, but teach people how to protect themselves.”
“A lack of feeling comfortable talking to each other about something you might have and sharing it with someone else.”
Dr. DiCenco says the way to avoid all the STD’s and HIV is to use a condom. But first he says young people need to realize the risk and the critical need for protection.