At least 1 S'pore teen gets STD everyday
At 15, Jack (not his real name) had it all - money, looks and grades from a good school.
But the teenager also ended up getting something nasty - a sexually transmitted disease (STD), or now known as sexually transmitted infection (STI).
His parents were too busy for him. So Jack paid prostitutes to visit him at home up to three times a week.
He did not like to use condoms and never thought of protecting himself against STIs when he had sex with them.
The Secondary Three student, who went on to score four As and two Bs in his O levels, eventually contracted gonorrhoea, a common bacterial STI.
Jack isn't the only teenager to have contracted an STI. Every day, more than one teenager in Singapore contracts an STI.
The latest figures from the Department of STI Control (DSC) Clinic show that, between 2006 and 2010, the number of STIs reported among 10- to 19-year-olds peaked at 829 in 2007.
It has fallen since then, but the figure remains at close to two cases per day in 2010 (626 in total). Jack's case is one of the youngest that professional counsellor John Vasavan has come across in 20 years of practice.
The DSC Clinic has seen STI cases in patients as young as 13.
Vasavan said Jack, who looked big for his age and could be described as "dashing", was diagnosed when he experienced some swelling and discharge.
However, it never occurred to him that it was an STI.
Vasavan said Jack sought him out through his own contacts, but he was oblivious about STIs.
He said:"He was only worried about getting someone pregnant."
Gonorrhoea can be treated, but Jack faces a lifelong possibility of relapse.
Patients with one STI are at increased risk of getting other STIs, including the human immuno- deficiency virus (HIV), which can lead to death.
The most commonly diagnosed STI among boys aged 10 to 19 in 2010 was gonorrhoea, a DSC Clinic spokesman said.
For girls in the same age group, the most common STI in 2010 was chlamydia.
Although curable, chlamydia can damage a woman's reproductive organs.
Chlamydia is even worse for teenage girls whose reproductive system has not fully developed, said Dr Tan Kok Kuan, chief medical officer at Dr Tan & Partners.
The infection can put such teens at a greater risk of uterus or fallopian tube infection, and also increases the risk of infertility.
Dr Tan, whose team has a special focus on fighting the HIV epidemic and combating the spread of STIs, said he has seen an increase in STIs among those aged below 20.
To Dr Tan, this means more young people are having unsafe sex.
He added that condoms are not as protective as people think. For example, a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that condoms only prevent 80 per cent of HIV infections.
The DSC Clinic said teens should be encouraged to protect themselves from most STIs (including HIV) and unwanted pregnancies by abstaining from sex till they are in a committed adult relationship like marriage.
Dr Kit Ng, a family psychologist and director of The Centre For Psychology, said it is common for the young to take risks when it comes to sex, as with anything else.
"That is why 30 to 35 per cent of young people who have sex do not use condoms," he said.
While they may think that activities such as having paid sex and watching porn are purely recreational, Dr Ng warns that these can get addictive quickly when individuals continue to be compelled to engage in them.
Source: The New Paper
Published May 7 2012