Young and Infected – The Invisible Epidemic

Many interesting people come through my doors…  Some more memorable than others…

A year ago I met a young lady who we’ll call “Mary”.   Mary is a 23 year old mother of one who is HIV positive.  A couple of years ago I would have considered Mary an oddity, a rarity in the Sault.  Recently, she has come to my mind often percisely because she is becoming less of a rarity and more representative of a generation riddled with STDs.

There are 25 common STDs (or STIs – sexually transmitted infections -the currently accepted term) that are present in North America.  Some are curable & some aren’t.  Among the non-curable STIs are Hep B, herpes, HPV and HIV…

The last decade has witnessed an erosion in the awareness of the risks associated with STIs in the popular consciousness.  A whole generation has become tired of the discussion and indifferent to the consequences.

About one-half of those between the ages of 15-25 who are sexually active participate in unprotected sex.  Approximately 5% of the general population is currently infected with an STI.  63% of all new STIs are occurring in individuals less than 25 years of age. A recent study at a major American University found that between 35-44% of its sexually active student population was infected by an STI.

The take home message is protect yourself or abstain!

And when an infection occurs – treat early!  Don’t pretend that everything is alright.

I still see Mary from time to time.  The last time we talked I asked the Mary of today what she would tell the Mary of 4 years ago, she replied,”Not to pass this burden on to my child…”.  Mary’s child is also HIV positive.