N.J. health officials continue youth outreach campaign to prevent STDs
New Jersey lawmakers are concerned about an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.
About half of sexually active 15- to 25-year-olds will contract a sexually transmitted disease unless they take precautions to prevent it, said state health officials.
That's troubling, said Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Atlantic.
"I have noticed with younger people, they feel that they're invincible, and they really don't worry about it anymore," he said. "And STDs are a greater problem than ever. I wonder if we should have a renewed energy toward that issue."
Sen. Jennifer Beck said Thursday that she heard one of her son's friends say that HIV is curable so there's no need to worry about it anymore.
"There's a certain naivete in the younger generation that doesn't appreciate the seriousness of some of these sexually transmitted diseases — and misinformation suggesting to them that things like HIV, which maybe can be managed, but still can't be cured," said Beck, R-Monmouth. "They think it's not a big deal."
State Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said the state is doing all it can to deal with the problem.
"What we're doing is primary prevention. We're doing outreach and education. We are doing testing, and we are doing treatment," she said. "We have a 340B drug program which ensures that free drugs are available to combat STDs if someone has been diagnosed."
Bennett said she hopes those efforts have an impact on the younger group.
"I think younger folks weren't aware of the message, and we're now using the different means that younger folks use to access news," she said. "So we're on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, all the types of social media platforms they use to get their information."
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