-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Feb. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Having a stable home
life as a child, nice friends and success at school reduces the
odds of getting sexually transmitted diseases as a young adult,
according to a new study.
The University of Washington researchers said the findings show
that efforts to prevent STD infections should begin years before
most young people start having sex.
"Kids don't engage in risky behaviors in a vacuum. There are environmental opportunities that have to be created," study lead author Marina Epstein said in a university news release. "Monitor your kid more generally, and make sure they're engaged in school and have friends who don't get into trouble."
The researchers analyzed data from nearly 2,000 Seattle-area
participants in two youth-development studies that began in the
mid-1980s and early 1990s. At age 24, the participants had been
with an average of eight sexual partners. About one-fifth said they
had been diagnosed with an STD such as herpes, Chlamydia,
gonorrhea, syphilis or HIV/AIDS, according to the study, which was
published online recently in the
Journal of Adolescent Health.
About one-third of those who became sexually active before age
15 had an STD, compared with 16 percent of those who started having
sex at a later age. Having more sexual partners and having sex
after drinking alcohol or using drugs also were linked with a
greater likelihood of having STDs.
The researchers also examined data collected when the
participants were aged 10 to 14 and found that those who lived in
homes with rules, discipline and rewards were less likely to have
sex at an early age, as were those who liked school, their teachers
Having childhood friends who were in gangs or who got into
trouble with teachers or police increased the likelihood that kids
would start having sex at an early age.
Millions of dollars are spent telling teens they should wait
until they're married to have sex, but most teens have sex anyway,
said Epstein, who is in the university's social development
research group. "We would be better off spending that money
preparing them to make healthy and responsible choices," she
"We already have good programs that have been shown to be effective at improving parent-child relationships and intervening with at-risk youth," Epstein said. "We should use our prevention dollars on programs that we know work and that show effects on a range of behaviors, including risky sex practices."
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
has more about
sexually transmitted diseases.
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