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BODY WATCH : United We Stand : The U.S. Isn't Alone in Its Ignorance About Sexually Transmitted Diseases

October 10, 1995|SANDY ROVNER | THE WASHINGTON POST

When it comes to knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases, people in France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom are just as ignorant as Americans.

A survey by the Gallup Organization shows that although 30% of the respondents said they knew someone with a sexually transmitted disease, one-third could not name a disease other than HIV/AIDS. About 1,000 adults were interviewed in each of the countries.

Results were presented recently by Peggy Clarke, president of the American Social Health Assn., at an international conference. ASHA sponsored the survey.

Said Clarke: "Given the global epidemic of STDs, there is an alarming lack of knowledge about these infections across all the countries surveyed." She noted that in the United States alone, an estimated 55 million people have STDs, with 12 million new infections annually.

Only 8% of the respondents said they got their information about STDs from health-care providers; TV was most often cited (42%), followed by books and magazines (30%). About 57% said health-care providers spent "no time at all" discussing STDs with them.

And relatively few respondents listed the STDs that have emerged during the last 20 years. These include genital herpes (mentioned by 17%), chlamydia (15%) and the human papillomavirus, which causes genital warts and is linked to cervical cancer (3%). Syphilis was mentioned most frequently (18%).

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For More STD Information

* Check with your doctor.

* Call the National STD Hotline: (800) 227-8922. Open 8 a.m.-11 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time), Monday-Friday.

* Call the National AIDS Hotline: (800) 342-AIDS. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spanish-language speakers can call (800) 344-7432, 8 a.m.-2 a.m. (EST).

* Call the National Herpes Hotline: (919) 361-8488. Open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (EST), Monday-Friday.

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