Going to the gynecologist is never a pleasant experience, but most responsible women suck it up at least once a year to have an annual pap smear. The new pap smear recommendations say women should delay getting their first test until they’re 21, regardless of whether they’re sexually active. But for some women, the pap and fear of developing cervical cancer were the only reasons they went to the doctor in the first place, and once they were in the stirrups, their doctor could examine them for signs of STDs. The new pap guidelines mean a whole generation, mainly teens, will be unlikely to get tested for STDs and STIs as they begin having sex. Black teens are especially at risk; find out why after the jump.
- Black teens don’t feel the same social and religious pressure to remain virgins as other racial groups.
- Twice as many black teens have sex than their white peers.
- The amount of black teens with STIs is double that of their white counterparts.
- Forty-nine percent of teens living with AIDS in the U.S. are black.
- Abstinence-only education is often the only sexual education taught to black teens.
These statistics suggest that abstinence-only education obviously doesn’t work, especially in the black community. The new pap smear recommendations seem scary, but they’ve highlighted once again that teens need sufficient and comprehensive sex ed. I’m terrified of a whole generation of people not knowing how their bodies work, how to protect themselves from diseases and infections, and what the symptoms of STDs look like. Since young women aren’t going to line up at the gynecologist’s office the minute they’ve had sex, we should be committed as a society to other vehicles of disseminating information, like, I don’t know, through parents and schools. [Essence]