By Lissette Martinez
In our culture, the topic of sexually transmitted diseases is very taboo and often avoided; something no one wants to speak about. No matter how important this subject is, it still makes people uncomfortable and isn’t discussed with parents, partners or even doctors, like it should be. Because of this, many lack of education to prevent and treat STDs.
In the United States alone, there are 19 million new cases of STDs every year. According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Hispanic youth between 15 and 25 years of age are at major risk of infection. 2011, for instance, showed an increase of 20% in gonorrhea and chlamydia. Before touching the subject with your children, it is important that you gather the right information to properly guide and update them about STDs. Dr. Gonzalo Venegas from the Women’s Specialty Center of Dallas, gives us important advice.
Informate DFW: How do we teach our children to prevent STDs?
Dr. Gonzalo Venegas: The first step is to talk to them about abstinence; the second, about safe sex. Safe sex is when both partners are using every available method to avoid catching an STD. Another way to prevent infection is by getting a vaccine to prevent HPV (Human Papiloma Virus). At the moment, there are two types of vaccines available to prevent HPV. One protects against two types of HPV and is given to pre-teens of 10 years or above. The other one protects against four types of HPV, some which can be cancerous. The doctor will determine what type of vaccine should be given.
IDFW: What types of diseases can be prevented when using a condom?
Dr. GV: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. All three of these diseases can cause infertility if infected at a young age and not treated in a timely manner. Condoms do not prevent diseases such as herpes, syphilis or HPV because these cause warts and lesions in areas the condom may not cover up.
IDFW: Lastly, what do you recommend for those who find it difficult to bring up the subject with their partner or children?
Dr. GV: If you’re a parent, remember children cannot protect themselves from the world, they need your guidance and for that to happen, you must discuss these issues; communication is the key. Also, keep in mind that just because we may be protecting ourselves, doesn’t mean that everyone else is doing the same. If you’re starting a sexual relationship with someone new, the most important thing is just bringing up the subject. Ask direct questions without being afraid of offending anyone. Just do it.