Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Should schools offer students STD tests? August 11, 2009

This is an exerpt from my Parenting column on the LA edition of

In an effort to curtail what is being called an “HIV epidemic”, D.C. school officials will offer tests for sexually transmitted diseases to all high school students in the coming school year, report Darryl Fears and Nelson Hernandez of the Washington Post . Last year, a pilot program conducted at eight high schools found that 13 percent of about 3,000 students tested positive for an STD–mostly gonorrhea or chlamydia, according to the D.C. Department of Health.

The results of a 2007 study by the D.C. public school system showed:

  • 60 percent of high school students and 30 percent of middle school students reported having had intercourse.
  • 20 percent of the high school students said they had had sex with 4 or more partners
  • 12 percent of the middle school students said they had had 3 or more partners.

STDs are of particular concern to AIDS activists because they increase the risk of contracting HIV. The testing program was hailed as a positive step in the city’s effort to arrest its growing AIDS rate, which is the highest in the nation and is considered an epidemic. Half of the city’s cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are among adolescents. “We have Third World statistics in terms of our HIV issues,” said William Lockridge, a member of the State Board of Education.

The program requires students to attend a lecture about STDs, with the choice to opt out of providing a urine sample for the test. (All 50 states and the District allow minors older than 12 to be screened for STDs without parental consent.) The tests are administered by taking groups of 15 to 20 students at a time to the restroom area; The students are given paper bags containing urine collection cups and enter bathroom stalls. Once they get in the stalls, they can choose whether or not to provide urine samples. All the students return the paper bags, so other students do not necessarily know who did or did not provide a sample. Students then provide a password and can call a week later to learn the result. If necessary, the student will receive counseling, treatment, and notification cards to inform partners of the positive diagnosis. All will be encouraged to share the results with their parents.

School systems in New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Baltimore either perform screening for sexually transmitted diseases or are preparing to begin pilot programs.

For more info: Read the entire article here.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chlamydia is the most commonly reported disease in the United States. More than 1.1 million new cases were reported in 2007, up from 1 million the previous year. Because the condition is mainly asymptomatic, most cases of chlamydia go undiagnosed. Symptoms include an inflamed pelvis and chronic pelvic pain, similar to symptoms for gonorrhea.

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2 Responses to “Should schools offer students STD tests?”

  1. 迷你倉 Says:

    The Hong KOng government will press on with a program of drug tests for students despite signs of growing opposition and worries about privacy laws being breached.

    The scheme is set to be launched as a pilot program at 23 secondary schools in Tai Po in December, with a review of progress in the middle of next year. The main thrust of the scheme is to provide counseling for those who test positive.

    But social workers have joined the Catholic Church in taking a stand against it, and Privacy Commissioner Roderick Woo Bun has said under-18s may not have the capacity to consent to tests and that the law does not allow parents or guardians to agree on their behalf.

    Permanent Secretary for Education Raymond Wong Hung-chiu said yesterday the government is also concerned about privacy, which is why the Department of Justice was consulted before the government went public with its plans. And the testing will conform with the law, he insisted.

    A spokesman for the Education Bureau said Woo has been contacted about his concerns. Bureau officials, along with the Security Bureau’s Narcotics Division, will soon explain to him plans for protecting privacy.

    Wong is also confident there will not be lawsuits once the program begins because “we will explain to parents and students the reason for collecting the data and how they will be used. The government will put in place measures to protect personal data.”

    Wong’s views received a measure of support from Hong Kong University assistant professor Eric Cheung Tat- ming. The Privacy Ordinance does not come into play, he said, as students have the right to refuse to be tested. Still, students should sign agreements to clarify their consent, and schools must explain how data will be used.

    Social workers, meanwhile, worry that students identified as drug abusers will face expulsion or discrimination by school management.

    Social welfare lawmaker Cheung Kwok-chu said more than half of 500 social workers polled see an invasion of privacy. They also feel that disclosure of test results should not rest with school authorities.

    Deputy Secretary for Education Betty Ip Tsang Chui-hing and Commissioner for Narcotics Sally Wong Pik-yee have already talked with school-based social workers in Tai Po about their roles in the scheme, but what was said has not be revealed.

    Principals, including those from several religious schools, yesterday reconfirmed a commitment to testing. “If we chicken out now, nothing can be done,” said Buddhist Hui Yuan College principal Sung Lim-ping. “So we should take the first step.”

    Confucian Ho Kwok Pui Chun College board member Elaine Lee Bik-wah said: “In secondary education, privacy is not our main concern. It will do them good if we insist on this and be strict.”

    The Catholic Church, however, continues to disapprove, with vicar- general Yeung Ming-cheung describing drug testing as negative.

    Education Is a better alternative, he said.


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