All high school students in DC will be offered free and confidential testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the upcoming school year, school officials have announced. The policy follows last year’s successful pilot program, which found 13 percent of 3,000 students tested had at least one STD, reports the Washington Post.
Health officials are especially concerned about the number of infections discovered in the pilot program because individuals with one STD are at greater risk for HIV infection. DC’s HIV infection rate is 3 percent, which is the nation’s highest and is considered an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control, reports WJLA News.
The new program includes a required lecture on STDs and optional urine testing. Students are then given their test results confidentially, and those who test positive receive information on free treatment options, reports the Washington Post.
The DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice praised the program in its HIV/AIDS Report Card (see PDF) released today. Executive Director Walter Smith told the Washington Post, “The [pilot] program tells us that a lot of students in the public school system are engaging in unsafe sex…this very high STD rate is an indication that what we’ve been doing is not effective.”