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L.A. County offers STD kits to teens

June 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Chlamydia infections remain the most common reportable STD in Los Angeles County. As with chlamydia, females aged 15 to 25 also report the highest rates of gonnorhea. The L.A. County Department of Public Health is taking unprecedented action.L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky unveiled the home kit at the center of a new health campaign.

"We are offering them an innovative way to test themselves. It's very simple," said Yaroslavsky.

It's free to any female aged 12 to 25. You request the kit by phone or go online and fill out a form. It's mailed to you in a plain white envelope. The kit includes a swab collection tool you return by mail.

A few days later your results are on a secure place online.

"You do it in the privacy of your own home. You do it on your own time. You can go on the Internet and you can check your own results. Nobody else has to know," said Angelica, Youth Street Team.

Angelica is part of the county's Youth Street Team. Their mission is to get their sexually active peers to get screened once a year.

If someone tests positive, counselors direct patients to a local clinic for medication.

The results are completely confidential and the test can be taken without a parent's consent. While many teens think this is great, some parents object.

"The parents should be told," said Tawnya Nevarez, a mother.

Tawnya says she wouldn't want her 15-year-old son to take a health test without her knowing.

"If the parents are not involved in the whole thing then I don't think it's right for them to ask children to do that," said Tawnya.

County officials argue confidentiality is the only way to stop the soaring rates of infection, especially in communities of color.

"Young African-American and Latina women 15 to 24 in central and south Los Angeles have been particularly impacted by sexually transmitted disease," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, L.A. County Department of Public Health.

And people often get re-infected. That's why health officials want young girls who test positive to get treated and then ask their partners to also get tested. Teen advocates agree.

"Women should take advantage of this resource. It's a great opportunity for them," said Jacklyn, Youth Street Team.

Sometimes you can be infected and not have any symptoms. Experts say both chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause PID, which can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening.

For more information about the free STD kit call (800) 758-0880.

  • Link: Free STD kits
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