Adolescents and sexually transmitted infections: still a lot of misinformation
Is it true or false that HPV infection, the papilloma virus, is sexually transmitted? In Del Paesene high schools, only 43,5% of students answer correctly (by the way: it's true!), According to the first results of the National Fertility Study released by the Ministry of Health at the beginning of 2022 and relating to a sample of 16 thousand third grade students. It is better in the case of HIV, recognized as sexually transmitted disease (Mts) by 95,5% of the boys, but worse for l'epatite or Chlamydia, on which 39% and 28% of students respond well respectively.
Again: in 2022, an investigation by the operators of the Center for skin infections and sexually transmitted diseases of the San Martino hospital in Genoa had shown that, when faced with a list of MTS (HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, herpes, candida and condylomas) only 0,5% of the students of about twenty high schools in Genoa and Lecce recognized them all as such. "We recently asked the same question to a similar group of students in Albania, getting 20% of the right answers" they anticipate Francesco Drago e Giulia Ciccarese, at the helm of the Center.
A surprising difference in the level of knowledge, which the two doctors attribute at least in part to the different approach towards thesex education at school. “In Albania, as in many European countries, it is mandatory. With us, not only is it not, but also the schools that want to do it often encounter difficulties ”underlines Drago, pointing the finger above all at the parents. “Many times it is families who reject it, because they consider the subject 'thorny'. In the meantime, however, for many boys the age of first intercourse is lowered".Read also: Talking about sex to children, here's how On newsstands on Focus EXTRA
This article is published in the journal Focus EXTRA, on newsstands from today 10 August 2022 at 5,90 euros (here instead the link for the subscription).
The issue is all dedicated to PARENTS & CHILDREN: an updated manual to get to know each other better.
Prevention, this unknown
That the Del Paeseni boys know very little about MTS is also shown by the data relating toinformation on prevention. Also according to the National Fertility Study, almost everyone knows that the condom it is useful in this sense (although not even he is perfect: for Hpv and herpes it is less effective than for other MTS). More than one in two adolescents, however, thinks any contraceptive method is fine, from the calculation of fertile days to interrupted coitus, to the pill (which instead does not protect against STDs at all). While other surveys have revealed that one in five young people attribute protective effects to a healthy diet. "We see the result of this lack of awareness in the clinic every day" Drago and Ciccarese say: "Minors with infections from HPV, the most frequent and moreover preventable with the vaccine, or from Chlamydia and mycoplasmas: germs considered minor, which often cause asymptomatic infections but which in the long run can lead to chronic inflammation and infertility. Or with syphilis, not very frequent but re-emerging ".
Read also: Fertility apps: how are they used, how useful are they and how reliable are they as a support to contraceptive methods?
Reliable national data onepidemiology of STD in adolescents there are none, but those who work there have no doubts that these are important numbers (at the San Martino clinic they see about twenty a month) and some estimates speak of one boy hit every four or five. "The good news - concludes Ciccarese - is that we are seeing an increase in requests for screening tests, perhaps after a relationship at risk. It is a good thing, also because many of these diseases are perfectly treatable, especially at the beginning, when they do not yet give symptoms ”.
Read also: Teenage Moms Contraceptives, here are the favorites
The contraceptive most loved by teenagers? According to data from the National Fertility Study it is the condom, chosen by 77% of boys struggling with their first sexual intercourse. But there are still many boys and girls who choose unsafe methods - from all points of view - with 25% relying on interrupted coitus and 11% on the calculation of fertile days. And as many as one in ten boys does not use any method.
Little used the pill, and even less i long-term contraceptives such as spiral and subcutaneous implantation of hormones, which are also recommended by various international guidelines for adolescents. Other investigations report slightly different figures, but the substance does not change. “Although fragmented, the available data on contraceptives tell one sexuality experienced by boys in an unscrupulous and bold way"He comments Emilio Arisi of the Del Paesena medical society of contraception. "Of course, adults are more aware, who choose condoms and pills above all for contraception."