A Million Man March Against STDs?


According to a new CDC study, 1 in 4 American teens has an STD. Specifically, reports CNN, they have one of these: “human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent.”

As unsettling as this news is, it’s downright mindbending that black girls’ infection rates are more than double those for whites and Mexican Americans; nearly half had at least one STD. It’s hard to figure out how to grapple with these numbers; they implicate religious repression, ingrained patriarchy, lack of basic sex ed, pathetic AIDS awareness, nihilism, and childhoods interrupted much too soon. Not just by the STD, but also by the poorly thought out sex that likely caused it.

Nearly half of black teenaged girls has an STD. My daughter will be a teen in only nine years, my son in only six. This is the reality they’ll be facing?I wonder how long it will take the usual suspects to make this, too, a conversation about racism. That’s a hell of a lot easier than tackling such an intractable problem head on. Especially since the conversation that we should have can’t be had without calling black men on the carpet.

We converged on Jena, Louisiana. We converged for the Million Man March. Will we converge on the local high school, or even more daringly, the local Baptist Church, and take care of our children? I’m betting on a resounding silence.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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