According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the City ranks high among US cities in the rate of infection for such sexually transmitted diseases as HIV, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.
Who has them? The City’s Health Department recently sent over some sobering statistics: approximately 31 percent of all STD cases are among teenagers, 12 to 18 years old. And 90 percent of STD cases (in which race is known) are African Americans.
That data is important because there are no cures or vaccines for HIV or AIDS, and because many STDs cause irreversible health problems. Knowing who is most likely to be infected and when, helps City health officials focus their efforts in the right places to save lives and improve health outcomes on prevention programs.
One such public program is The Body & Soul Project, sponsored by the Health Department in partnership with Youth Empowerment Services. The Health Department hopes that 500 kids (and some of their parents) will attend it today. Here is a program description the Health Department sent me yesterday:
The purpose of this workshop is to raise awareness and educate St. Louis teens about STDs, the benefits of abstinence, and the possible consequences associated with risky sexual behavior. It is designed to provide accurate information that can empower youth to make responsible choices. The workshop will emphasize abstinence as the only 100% sure way to stay STD free as well as educate youth on prevention strategies emphasizing that barrier methods like condoms during sexual engagement is a MUST!
The workshop will take place Saturday, December 8, 2007 at St. Louis Community College, Forest Park Campus. On-site registration begins at 9:00 am in the cafeteria of the Student Center. This is a free event! Breakfast and lunch will be provided! There will be education classes for teens and parents. Free bus pick-up and drop-off service will be provided with buses leaving from Beaumont High School at 8 a.m., Stowe Middle School 8:15 a.m. and the West End Community Center at 8:30 a.m. There will also be a bus leaving from the 12th & Park Community Center at 8 a.m. Free testing and counseling will be provided during the event as well.
Students will participate in educational workshops taught by experienced, professional STD health educators from well renowned local agencies. The workshops will cover modes of transmission, potential health consequences, as well as the current testing and treatment options available. After participating in classroom education, the students will have an opportunity to hear first- hand from persons living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, the program features a special presentation on life skills and decision making related to gang violence prevention. There will be musical entertainment provided by student performers, along with prizes and giveaways.
This event is open to all high school students of St. Louis (city and county). Parents are required to sign a permission and photo consent form for each of their children that attend. Parents are encouraged to attend with their children. Remember: there will be educational sessions for parents as well!!! The message of sexual responsibility is strengthened when it can be reinforced at home.
For more information or answers to your questions about the program, call Brandii Mayes
at (314) 612-5182. For questions about bus service contact Aaron Morris
at (314) 612-5389.