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Written by Dr.Swati Rajagopal

Awareness about HIV-AIDS may have spread fast in the past few years but teenagers still lack appropriate knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), say doctors here.

Every month, 10 to 15 teenagers knock on their doors and seek medication for STDs. Doctors blame this on lack of awareness about STDs and sex education in families as well as in schools.

“It’s not that children, especially teenagers, don’t know about HIV and AIDS, but their knowledge is limited. The internet is their main source of information. Children should be provided sex education, both by their families and schools. Those in the puberty age group should be told about the importance of safe sex,” said Dr Swati Rajagopal, consultant, infectious diseases, Columbia Asia Hospital.

“To this day, there are many misconceptions among youngsters when it comes to AIDS. I often receive queries from worried teenagers practising unsafe sex. This reinforces the need to educate Young India on effective ways to prevent HIV-related infections,” she added.

Dr Suryanarayan Sharma, consultant, internal medicine, BGS Global Hospital, said: “Most teenagers think any contraceptive will protect them from STDs but don’t know that even saliva can be a source of infection. Syringes used to inject drugs can lead to serious viral infections.”

Doctors felt that counselling children and educating them is more important than providing treatment. “We still have to continue education, awareness and prevention at the same pace and not be complacent,” said Dr K S Sathish, consultant, pulmonologist, Fortis Hospital.

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