Facebook Cited In Rising Teen STD Rates

May 19th, 2011 by Staff

SANFORD, Fla. – Could your teen’s Facebook account lead them to a sexual encounter, and perhaps a sexually transmitted disease?

Health experts believe a recent spike in STDs can be blamed on social networking among teens and young adults.

The Seminole County Health Department said more teens are coming into its clinic with STDs, and so it is now hosting a program aimed at teens.

“I’m concerned about who he talks to and what is being said or who he hangs out with,” said Teresa Gwinn, who closely watches what her 13-year-old son does online.

Even though she’s tech savvy, she never thought teens could use social networking such as Facebook and dating websites to hook up for casual sex.

Health experts said faster communication technology has led to a recent spike in sexually transmitted disease, especially in young adults and teens. In Seminole County, there’s been a 200 percent rise in syphillis cases from last year. Chlamydia is also on the rise, according to SCHD statistics. The age group health officials are seeing most frequently is from 14 to 24.

Experts think part of the problem may be that social network relationships allow young adults and teens to let their guards down before meeting someone in person. They also think social networking makes it easier for teens to move on to multiple partners.

“They’re using the social networks. They’re not talking to their parents, and they’re hooking up with people that they really don’t know anything about. They’re contracting diseases, and then they go their separate ways,” said Preston Boyce, a disease intervention specialist with SCHD. “There wasn’t a bond that was developed in the first place, so they’re just meeting people, and that bond wasn’t there so it’s easy to walk away after the first time.”

SCHD hosts teen clinic programs for STDs each Wednesday afternoon.

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