Here's yet another reason to focus on kids' early years. Children who grow up in well-managed households, enjoy school, and have friends who stay out of trouble report fewer sexually transmitted diseases in young adulthood, according to a new analysis.
The findings, from University of Washington longitudinal surveys of nearly 2,000 participants, suggest that efforts to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases should begin years before most people start having sex.
"Pay less attention to the sex aspect of this and think of the larger context," is lead author Marina Epstein's advice to parents and educators.
"Kids don't engage in risky behaviors in a vacuum, there are environmental opportunities that have to be created," she said. "Monitor your kid more generally, make sure they're engaged in school and have friends who don't get into trouble."
Epstein is a researcher at the UW's Social Development Research Group. The new study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was recently published online and will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Much is known about how to prevent STDs wear condoms, limit your sexual partners, don't have sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol yet they are the most common type of infection in the U.S. Young adults ages 15 to 24 account for half of new cases, according to a previous study.
"A lot of prevention happens after the fact," said co-author Lisa Manhart, an associate professor of epidemiology at the UW Center for AIDS and STD. "Either youth are already having risky sex by the time they hear prevention messages, or they're in an STD clinic because they think they have an STD and someone is saying 'here are some things you can do to not get another one.'"
Prevention programs promoting abstinence or delay of sexual activity have had mixed results in reducing STDs. "When they are effective, it is very s
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University of Washington