Bush years' syphilis boom

Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among the generation of American schoolgirls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush’s evangelically driven education policy, according to the leading United States public health body.

In a report that will surprise few of Bush’s critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) went into reverse or stalled during the Bush years.

According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991, but rose sharply in more than half of US states after 2005.

The number of teenage girls with syphilis rose by nearly half after a significant decrease, whereas a 20-year fall in the gonorrhoea infection rate was being reversed.

Aids cases in adolescent boys nearly doubled.
The CDC says southern states tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.

In addition, about 16 000 pregnancies were reported among girls aged 10 to 14 in 2004 and a similar number of young people in the age group reported having a sexually transmitted disease. ‘It is disheartening that after years of improvement with respect to teen pregnancy and STDs, we now see signs that progress is stalling,” said Janet Collins, a CDC director.

Although the CDC does not attribute a cause, groups that support comprehensive sex education have seized on the report as evidence of the failure of religiously driven policies that shy away from teaching about contraception in favour of emphasising avoiding sexual contact.—

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