More girls infected
September 16, 2008
THE trend of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among young people has nearly doubled over the last 10 years — and among young women alone, that rate has more than doubled since 2002.
Among youth aged 15 to 24, the incidence rate of STIs was 231 per 100,000 population in 1998. Last year, it was 418 per 100,000.
According to Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, a study is underway by the National University of Singapore to examine the link with factors such as socio-economic background and education level.
Figures released yesterday showed the STI incidence rate saw a big jump in 2003, from 227 to 334 per 100,000 young people.
Interestingly, young females — who, previously, had a generally lower incidence of STIs — have consistently outstripped their male peers since 2003.
Possible reasons for this, cited in earlier reports, are that girls usually become sexually mature earlier, are more susceptible to some STIs such as chlamydia, and tend to have older partners, who themselves are likely to have multiple partners.
The Internet boom could also be behind the surge in STIs among the young, with chatrooms and forums being places where they hook up to have sex, said earlier reports.
Mr Khaw, in a written answer yesterday to a question by MP Zaqy Mohamad, cited a 2006 Students’ Health Survey which found that 4 per cent of Secondary 3 and 4 students have had sexual intercourse.
Of these, 24 per cent had had sex more than five times in the past 12 months, found the study by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Education Ministry.
The Health Minister said, several programmes are in place to address the rising trend. For instance, the topic on STIs is included in the science syllabus and sexuality education is mandatory in schools.
The HPB also has an STI/Aids prevention programme targeted at Sec 3 students, while awareness programmes help those in tertiary institutions spot the signs of STIs and advise them on medical follow-up. Those diagnosed with STIs are treated and counselled individually.
The HPB also holds programmes offer parents tips on how to broach sexuality issues with their children.
“We will repeat the Students’ Health Survey every three years, to monitor the effectiveness of these programmes,” said Mr Khaw.
Labels: health, sexuality, youth