"I wish they would only take me as I am" - Vincent Van Gogh               "How Can I believe in God when just last week I got my tounge caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" - Woody Allen              "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" - Henry David Thoreau              "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia" - Woody Allen            "When promulgating esoteric cogitations, eschew platitudinous ponderosities" - Mark Rowan, my father            "Up, sluggard, and waste not life, for in the grave there will be sleep enough" - Benjamin Franklin             "What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." - Albert Einstein            "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence" - Ronald Reagan            "It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you." - Lady Bird Johnson              "I still want to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup truck" - Howard Dean

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Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Graduate of the University of Oregon, Married for 4-1/2 years to my High School sweetheart. I am currently residing in Cleveland while I attend med school.

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    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Surprising Trends for Youth Risk

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released data on trends of of Youth Risk behavior this week with some surprising and encouraging findings. As someone who was a student during the 90's, my impression has been that since 2000 (when I graduated) students have become more sexually active and use drugs and alcohol at a greater rate than when I was in school. However, the figures from the CDC report indicate that youth behaviors are actually improving in many regards.

    With the exception of inhalant use, the CDC summary indicates that the use of drugs has dropped over the past several years, following increases between 1991 and 1999. However, the summary I saw did not include prescription medication abuse, which I imagine has substantially increased (this is anecdotal, based on recent experience tutoring high-school students in Marin County).

    What was more surprising to me were the changes in sexual behavior. During High School I was involved with STARS (Students Today Aren't Ready for Sex), and abstinence education program for middle schoolers. I'll note that I actually don't support abstinence-only education, which is why the findings are so surprising to me. While abstinence-only education has been on the rise since 1996, several markers of youth sexual behavior are improving.

    Here is a summary of the summary:
    • Fewer youth report ever having sex
    • Fewer youth have had sex with more than four partners
    • The number of youth who used a condom at the last sexual encounter has been increasing
    • Fewer youth have been taught about HIV/AIDS

    The first three of those findings are very encouraging, indicating that youth are acting more responsibly towards sexual activity. However, the fact that fewer students are being taught about HIV/AIDS is certainly worrisome. This may be due to the fact that AIDS is no longer the death sentence that it was in the late 80's and early 90's. This is a concept that we have talked about at length in medical school. Because it can be treated fairly effectively now, many people see it as a chronic disease as opposed to a death sentence and are not as fearful about contracting it. This may be an explanation why it has fallen out of favor in sex education. Regardless of the reason, this should be an avenue for further improvement.

    Of course, none of this proves that abstinence-only education is the cause of the improvement, but it does open my eyes a little.


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