New Report: Shelby Co. Teens Lead State in STDs

New Report: Shelby Co. Teens Lead State in STDs

Shelby County teenagers lead the state in the number of sexually transmitted diseases, and that's just the start of the bad news.
MEMPHIS, TN (loclamemphis.com) - Shelby County teenagers lead the state in the number of sexually transmitted diseases, and that's just the start of the bad news.

The State of Tennessee released its annual "Kid's Count" report on Friday. The report also found Shelby County teens lead the state in the number of high school suspensions, expulsions and drop outs.

The report found that more than half of the state's cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis, came from 15 to 17 year-old teens in Shelby County in 2010. This is the second year Shelby County has led Tennessee in this category.

"We are not surprised because we see it every day," said Anthony Amos, with the Shelby County Health Department. "Seeing the numbers grow like they do, with STDs and HIV, it should tell you that you need to be protected."

The report did have some good news. The number of teens giving birth in Shelby County fell from close to 1000 in the last report to just over 600.

"Contraceptive failure when you are not at a stage of your life to have a baby, can derail everything," said Claudia Haltom, with A Step Ahead Foundation, which works to provide free long-term birth control.

"For them to be catching STDs, and only be teenagers so, that's bad," said college student Tomica Lake.

"Peer pressure, like they hear other people talking about it, so they want to do it," she added.

"I knew this was a wild generation but hey, I didn't know they were that wild," said Jimmy Collins, who has a 15-year-old granddaughter.

"I tell her, hey baby, you got the rest of your life to do all that," he said. "Don't spend your time with these jokers who don't want nothing."

Experts say this report shows the work in Shelby County is just getting started. They point to education and awareness as important, but the true key is starting a dialogue at home.

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