Columbia County high school students and their parents are invited to attend Keeping Love Pure, a frank discussion about sexually transmitted diseases.
The program, organized by Columbia County School System nurses, will be April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Evans High School Auditorium.
Dr. Christopher Apostol, a local family practice physician, will present the abstinence-based program for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
"I think the teenagers need to know the facts about sexually transmitted diseases - that once you have these diseases, most are with you for a lifetime," said Julie Howard, school nursing supervisor.
Though many sex-education related courses focus on pregnancy prevention, this one is specifically designed to focus on sexually transmitted diseases.
"It is another aspect of what can happen if you are sexually active," Howard said. "It's a real eye opener. It makes you think. The numbers show that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise - syphilis is on the rise and there are certain strains of gonorrhea that are hard to treat with antibiotics. Viral things, such as herpes, can't be cured at all - they are with you for life. And certain ones you don't know you have and it is passed on from person to person."
Because of the sensitive nature of the material, as well as the graphic photos of people with sexually transmitted diseases that will be shown, parental presence or signed permission is required. Permission forms are available at all high schools. Parental permission is not required for people 18 or older. This is the second year the school system has offered this program, though last year it was only open to employees and their teens.
Howard said the school nurses are trying to take an active role in promoting wellness. After all, she said, sexually transmitted diseases can have long-term affects such as fertility problems and cervical cancer.
"Of course teenagers have the attitude it's not going to happen to me," Howard said. "When you see these pictures of people with sexually transmitted diseases, you see it can happen. It's kind of shocking, but they need to be shocked into reality. We are trying to get them to face the facts."
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